Marriage courts are established to respond to requests that are made by those who have received a divorce to investigate whether or not their former marriage was validly established according to the church's understanding of marriage.
The freely given consent of a man and a woman establishes a marriage covenant.
Any person who wishes to enter marriage in the Catholic Church, and who has a former spouse who is living, needs to look at the possibility of a declaration of nullity in order to determine that they are free to marry in the Catholic Church.
The fact that a couple was married before a Catholic priest and two witnesses does not necessarily guarantee that all the requirements were present to establish a full and valid marriage.
As part of its fundamental teaching on marriage, the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce as ending the bond established in marriage, believing that marriage is binding until death. While the presumption always exists that a marriage is valid, either of the spouses has the right to ask the church to examine this presumption after common life has ceased, there is no hope of reconciliation, and a civil divorce has been obtained.
Divorced Catholics may consider remarriage following a decree of nullity, commonly known as annulment.