The Ecclesiastic Council for Family Affairs is comprised of several experienced priests chosen by the bishop. They usually meet once a month to discuss cases presented to them. One of the priests acts as secretary, setting up the agenda for the meeting. Prior to getting to the council, the local parish priest tries to resolve the marital problem if there has not yet been a legal divorce. Often the couple meets with several priests to gain advice from each. Often, a referral to a professional marriage counselor is suggested. When there is an impasse, and certainly if a civil divorce is granted, the case is referred to the council based upon the request of one or both spouses.
Cases are assigned to a priest who studies the situation, holds interviews with both individuals, and collects documentation ￼prior to presenting the case to the Council. Documents may include proof that one of the divorced spouses has remarried, a written declaration by one that he/she has a relationship with another person, or other relevant documents to the case. At the Council’s meeting, the priest to whom the case is assigned presents his findings. A discussion follows and a decision is made.