What is a Ligamen? From the Latin word for 'string' or 'tie', a Ligamen petition demonstrates a marriage was entered into invalidly because of the parties was bound/tied by a prior marriage. Because of Jesus's teaching that marriage lasts until death (cf. Mt. 19), a person whose former spouse cannot enter into another valid marriage.
What are the conditions for a Ligamen?
The Respondent was validly married prior to the marriage the Petitioner wants annulled. And
The Respondent's first spouse is still alive.
How long does it take? Once we have received the petition with all the accompanying documents, it may take two months to process; however, the Tribunal absolutely must have the participation of the Respondent because the Respondent needs to provide a copy of the civil marriage license of his/her first marriage (a public document that only the spouses may request from the county). A Ligamen requires the help of one's former spouse.
How much does it cost? Since August of 2014, there is no longer any fee for any type of annulment. The elimination of fees makes the application for an annulment accessible to all people and avoids the impression that one can buy an annulment. Although there are no fees, you should be regularly tithing to your parish, as the Bible commands. Like the ministry of Jesus was funded by the women who followed Him, so too the good work of the mission of the Catholic Church - including annulments - happens partly because of the obligation we have to give a percentage of our income to God.
The Petitions must be accompanied by the following:
A copy of the civil marriage license/certificate for the marriage. Each state or nation will have a different form. We are looking for the form that provides statistical information, in particular which marriage this was for each party, 1st, 2nd, etc. It should also contain the name of the minister or official who performed the ceremony as well as his or her title.
A copy of the Final Decree of Judgment of Dissolution, Divorce or Nullity issued by the civil court terminating the civil aspect of the marriage. Each state or nation will have a different form. We are looking for the form that specifies the date on which the marriage is terminated by the civil authority. The copy must bear a stamp or imprint showing that the Final Decree or Judgment has been entered by the court. (We do not want martial settlement agreements or copies of court orders regarding property.)
A copy of the civil marriage license for the Respondent's first marriage. Each state or nation will have a different form. We are looking for the form that provides statistical information, in particular which marriage this was for each party (the license should indicate it was the Respondent's 1st marriage). It should also contain the name of the minister or official who performed the ceremony as well as his or her title. This is where the Petitioner needs help from his or her ex-spouse, and this is why this 'type' of annulment is rare.
No Petition is to be sent to the Office of Canonical Services unless accompanied by each of these documents. The absence of any of these documents will prevent the case from being processed. In such a situation, the Office of Canonical Services reserves the option of returning the Petition to the Advocate without further action. If a document truly cannot be provided, the Petitioner must supply a complete written explanation for the inability to provide the document - why is it impossible to provide the document (e.g., "the church burned down," or "the marriage was never recorded civilly or in the church") and how the Petitioner knows the event actually took place (e.g., "I must have been baptized because all my siblings were, and I made my First Communion"). If the Petitioner is unable to provide a document, simply write a paragraph explaining why.
No Petition is to be sent to the Office of Canonical Services without completing that portion of the Petition concerning the current whereabouts of the Respondent.