Members of the Catholic faith not only have to follow the secular rules of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code in order to dissolve their marital bonds, but also must follow the edicts of the Catholic Church and request an annulment in order to sever the religious bonds of a prior union. The annulment process is directed by a Church tribunal (a church court), who has the authority to render a marriage previously thought to be valid, under the laws and teachings of the Catholic church, to be invalid. The invalidity is not due for secular reasons, which are referred to as “impediments,”e.g., the parties were not free to marry, they were related within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, they were not capable of consent, or they were under the age of 18 years, but because the union was missing at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union through the church. In order for a marriage to be valid under Catholic teachings, the marriage must result from five elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they are able to freely exchange their consent; (3) they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; (4) they intend the good of each other; and (5) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. If any of these five elements are missing from the union, the marriage may be annulled. (Continue reading).