The amount of time it takes to judge a declaration of nullity case varies because each case depends on many factors, such as:
- The cooperation of the witnesses
- Whether your former spouse chooses to cooperate
- The required canonical procedures needed to judge the case, including gathering evidence and testimony
- The number of cases that each judge is currently working on
- Possible difficulties in obtaining certain Church, civil, and medical records if they are needed
- The provision in Church law which requires three judges to review each case
- The fact that each affirmative decision is automatically forwarded to a court of appeals for confirmation before the case is concluded
It is impossible to give an exact timeline since each case is unique, but past experience indicates that, from the time the tribunal receives a case, the entire procedure lasts between 12 and 18 months. Some cases, because of their nature, require even more time to be resolved.
The Church has a duty to protect, defend, and teach the sacred dignity of marriage. When the bond of marriage is challenged through a petition for a declaration of nullity, the Church must examine the challenge cautiously to make sure the decision is a just one based on the law and the facts. The declaration of nullity process is designed to get to the truth of the matter as quickly and justly as possible while protecting the rights of the parties involved.
Remember that a favorable decision is never guaranteed and no future wedding plans should begin until after a final favorable decision is made.