General Information

Case Inquiry & Confidentiality
Catholic Baptismal Records
How to Begin a Marriage Case
Locating Civil Marriage and Divorce Records
Marriage and Divorce Records
Other Tribunals in Michigan
Records Needed for a Case
Tribunal staff and the Code of Canon Law

Case Inquiry & Confidentiality

Any requests for information on a case must be done by the parties themselves or their procurators - advocates (This is usually the priest or pastoral minister at the parish who assists and represents the petitioner or the respondent throughout the process).

Cases are filed after the birth or maiden last names of the parties and given an office control number (OCN). This information appears on all correspondence we send advocates, parties and witnesses. (Knowing the OCN before contacting us will speed the inquiry process.)

Because of security and confidentiality concerns, the Tribunal cannot respond to e-mail inquiries about cases.

Inquiries or questions of a general nature may be done in writing or phone during business hours.

The staff may be contacted by phone (517) 342-2560 during business hours, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday.

If leaving a phone message at other times, please speak clearly and indicate your name, return phone number with area code, message and any reference to the case number.

Like other diocesan offices, the Tribunal is closed on certain Church holydays and secular holidays.

Catholic Baptismal Records

A recently issued (no longer than 6 months ago) baptismal record of any Catholic party should accompany any case.

The baptismal record should have a section about the sacrament of matrimony.

It will list any sacramental marriage(s), dispensation(s)and annulment(s) as well as the reception of holy orders or entry into religious life.

If these are not present in the parish register, their sections on the record should be crossed out and read "no notations." Typically those sections are on the back of the forms parishes issue.

The Official Catholic Directory, published annually by P. J. Kenedy & Sons and kept in most rectories, provides addresses of parishes in this country.

How to Begin a Marriage Case

Contact your local parish office.

Either a priest or a trained pastoral minister will make an appointment to meet with you.

He or she will then assist you in preparing the case and submitting it to the Tribunal according to the Tribunal guidelines.

You will be given the forms and instructions you need at the time.

You will need to obtain certain records to begin the case.

The Tribunal will respond according to the type of case.

Locating Civil Marriage and Divorce Records

Copies of most Michigan records since 1867 may be obtained from the county clerk in the county where the event occurred. Further information is available from:

Office of the State Registrar

Michigan Dept. of Community Health
3423 N. Martin L. King Blvd.
P. O. Box 30195
Lansing, MI 48909
Call: 517-335-8666

Web sites or information for the counties in our diocese and our state can also be obtained from the Michigan Association of Counties.

Information on acquiring records from other states and foreign countries is available in, "Where to Write for Vital Records" from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Fees that governmental units require for this vary.

Marriage and Divorce Records

The marriage record should be the civil marriage record rather than the church record or souvenir certificate. This can be obtained usually from the clerk of the county in which the marriage license was obtained. Extraneous material, such as heavy folders, boxes, or booklets, should not be sent.

The divorce decree is the document which contains the date and place of the final judgment of divorce, as well as information concerning the number of children, their custody, and support requirements. Divorce decrees can be obtained usually from the county in which the divorce is granted.

All pages of the decree must be submitted.

For assistance, visit Locating Civil Marriage & Divorce Records

Other Tribunals in Michigan

Each diocese has a link to its tribunal. You may find it by navigating from the list below.

Archdiocese of Detroit
Diocese of Gaylord
Diocese of Grand Rapids
Diocese of Kalamazoo
Diocese of Marquette
Diocese of Saginaw

Records Needed for a Case

Every case requires the recent and complete official baptismal record of any Catholic party, as well as both official and complete civil marriage and divorce records.

Such official records are stamped or embossed by the institution (court, county clerk, parish, etc.) which issues them in copy form.

Sometimes a record of non-Catholic baptism will be necessary.

Tribunal staff and the Code of Canon Law

Beyond marriage cases, the Tribunal staff treats a varied and ever-changing range of situations. The diocese and its institutions face questions and decisions that involve widely assorted Church legal issues. But the Code of Canon Law is both complex and comprehensive. In part, the Code . . .

  • presents the rights and obligations of the lay faithful, clergy, and religious in the Church.
  • provides rules for financial, real estate, contractual and personnel decisions in the Church.
  • includes ways to settle grievances and remedy injustice within the Church.
  • regulates sanctions and penalties that Church authorities can impose.
  • sets steps to be followed when there is a trial in the Church.
  • covers worship, the celebration of sacraments, Catholic education and catechesis.

Church law is found in many other sources as well, and not all laws have equal weight. Special expertise is needed to interpret legal texts correctly. Thus, the Bishop, diocesan offices and parishes often ask canon lawyers for review and advice as they make critical decisions or develop policies in harmony with the spirit and letter of Church law. Requests for assistance by persons outside the diocesan staff are best done by phone or letter. Since effective ministry requires a working knowledge of Church law, the canon lawyers of the Tribunal are involved with the education of Church ministers. They may teach classes or give presentations about Church law. When disputes arise or rights are violated in the Church, canon lawyers may provide consultation or advocacy. They may answer questions people have about Church law and how it applies to their circumstances and options. All who practice canon law are obliged to recall that the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls.