Witnesses: How to fill out a questionnaire
The petitioner has asked the Tribunal to do an investigation into the validity of his/her marriage to the respondent. In doing so, the petitioner has asked us to gather testimony and other evidence surrounding that marriage. The Tribunal considers a marriage to be valid until proven otherwise. The law requires that the judges be morally certain that the marriage is invalid to overturn this presumption of law. As a witness, you provide supporting evidence to the claims of the petitioner and respondent.
As this is an investigation, as in all investigations, it is imperative that we have all the facts necessary to come to the truth regarding the marriage. There are several factors that could have led to an invalid marriage, i.e. lying, fraud, lack of due discretion, etc. Those factors must have been present at the time of consent, or at the time of the vows. That could include divulging extremely personal information about either of the parties, or even yourself. Be assured that we treat your information with the utmost confidentiality: the information does not leave the Tribunal and can only be read by the Court, your Advocate, the Respondent (should he/she choose), and the Respondent's Advocate. The parties and their Advocates can only read the information once at an appointed time. Witnesses are sometimes concerned about hurting the feelings of one of the parties by the evidence they can submit. Be not afraid - the petitioner, and even the respondent, has asked the Tribunal to do this investigation and wants to come to the truth about the validity of the marriage. Often, the tough stuff in the evidence is vital to the decision and the parties will be grateful for your honesty.
Because it is very serious to declare that a marriage between two people was not valid, it is very important that you give all the information you can – BE AS DETAILED AS YOU CAN – in answering the questions provided. As has been stated, THIS IS AN INVESTIGATION and in any investigation we need as much evidence as possible to come to the truth. Also, it will slow up the case if you do not give us enough information. When we do not receive enough information, the case is give to an auditor to do additional investigating. That takes extra time, so help the case by giving us all possible information at the beginning of the case.
- DO NOT give merely yes and no answers. Explain in detail why.
- The petitioner has asked the Tribunal to investigate the validity of this marriage; tell us why you feel the marriage is either valid or invalid.
- The judges will be making a judgment of whether or not the bond of marriage was formed at the time of consent: make sure you include a lot of details on the period surrounding the time of the marriage - do not focus on how it ended.