Marriage is never a private affair. It is recognized by society. It has legal existence before the Church and the State. It is a matter of public record. And for Catholics, marriage in the Church is a celebration of the sacrament in the presence of the Church's minister and the Church community. Therefore, for a declaration of nullity, Church law requires proof beyond simply the word of the person seeking it. Of course, the Church will rely heavily upon the statements of the spouses. No one knows the truth better than he or she. The additional proofs usually come for the testimony of witnesses-relatives, friends or acquaintances that knew the spouses during their courtship and marriage and are willing to offer information to the Tribunal. Marriage counselors, psychologists, doctors and other professionals also may act as witnesses; but when they do, they require a release signed by the person about whom they are giving judgment. Medical, military, government or judicial records can be admitted as evidence. Sometimes even the transcripts of civil action, especially civil annulment, can provide proof not available elsewhere. In certain instances testimony about the credibility of a spouse (character witness) is acceptable, but it never stands alone as proof. Witnesses are much more likely to participate if their cooperation has been secured beforehand. For that reason your former spouse, who is called the "Petitioner", was asked to notify them that they will be requested by the Tribunal to give information. The Tribunal contacts witnesses by mail, using questionnaires. You, your parents and your former spouse's parents are among those contacted, usually with your prior knowledge.