When the canonical grounds have been established, the Respondent (unless declared Absent by the Court for failure to cooperate with the investigation) will have the same opportunity as the Petitioner to review the case before it is sent to the Judges of the Court of First Instance.

  • If there is an AFFIRMATIVE vote by the Judges, that is, if the decision of the Court of First Instance (the Diocese of Camden) is that the marriage is judged to be invalid, the case is then sent to the Court of Second Instance (the Diocese of Paterson) for a mandatory review.
  • If the Paterson Court ratifies the decision of the Camden Court, then the annulment has been granted and both parties are free to enter a marriage with others who are also free to marry.

  • If, however, the Paterson Court does not ratify the decision of the Camden Court, a Negative Decision is issued and the annulment has been denied.  In this situation the Petitioner has the option of appealing the case to the Court of Third Instance (the Roman Rota).
  • If there is a NEGATIVE vote by the Judges, that is, if the decision of the Court of First Instance (the Diocese of Camden) is that the marriage is judged to be valid, then the Petitioner has the right to appeal that Negative Decision to the Court of Second Instance (the Diocese of Paterson).

An appeal does not overturn the first decision.

If the Appeals decision is in agreement with the first decision, that first decision (Affirmative or Negative) will stand.  However, if the Appeals decision is not in agreement with the first decision, then the Petitioner may send the case to Rome, to the Court of Third Instance (the Rota), for a final decision.  The Roman Rota may agree with either of the first two decisions.  According to Canon Law, two conforming affirmative decisions are needed in order for an annulment to be granted