Administrative Classifications for Dissolution of Marriage

Friday, Feb. 14, 2020

1. Lack of Form.

A lack of form is where the Church finds that the original marriage lacks a form approved by canon law, because Catholics are mandated to be married according to canonical form. All civil marriages celebrated by Catholics (unless a special dispensation has been granted) fall into this category, which can be handled within a few weeks by the Tribunal of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. This is the most common dissolution granted; about 150 to 200 are granted each year in the diocese.

2. Ligamen

“Ligamen”is a condition where one of the parties entering the marriage was impeded by a previous bond. This is where a Catholic individual has been married to a spouse who has been previously married (and then civilly divorced) in what the Catholic Church considers a valid marriage. Because the Church does not recognize the dissolution of the first marriage, by canon law the second marriage is invalid. The petitioner who has left the second marriage can be granted a restoration of the sacraments. The Salt Lake tribunal sees about 30 to 50 cases of this a year.

3. Pauline Privilege of the Faith

A unique situation in Utah leads to more judgments of what is known as the Pauline Privilege of the Faith. In this instance, the Church does not recognize the sacramental nature of an original marriage, such as those between two people of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one or both of whom later become Catholic and who want to be married in the Church. While such situations are uncommon elsewhere, in the Diocese of Salt Lake City, the tribunal adjudicates 30 to 50 such cases a year.

4. Sanatio in Radice (“healing in the root”)

In certain cases, a dissolution is not necessary. Instead, the marriage needs to be formalized, as in the case of many civil and some common law marriages, if the non-Catholic partner is not opposed to the formalization.

“This is the convalidation of a marriage without pronouncing the consent in front of a priest,” said Fr. Langes Silva, judicial vicar for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. The tribunal grants Sanatio in Radice about 10 times per year.

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