10 frequently asked questions regarding Temple Clearance and Temple Cancellations.

Having divorced my husband, and talked with my local leaders at length I’ve decided to share what I have learned with others in the hopes that they’ll have a greater understanding of the process—whether for their own benefit or for the benefit of those around them.

Before I start, let me first define the two:

Temple Clearance: Sought by the man when he wants to remarry. He is sealed with his first wife, and will be with the woman he is marrying—men cannot seek clearances if they are not engaged.

Temple Cancellation: Sought by the woman. She is no longer going to be sealed with her former husband, and is likely to be sealed with another man in the near future—women can seek clearances if they are not engaged, but it is highly discouraged.

Both require a temple recommend before beginning each process. Both processes are the exact same and use the same form, only a different box is marked at the top. Both processes are individual; a woman seeking a cancellation does not satisfy the requirement of her former spouse needing a clearance to marry in the temple.

#1: What is a Clearance/Cancellation?

A clearance/cancellation is sought by members who have married in the temple, but for whatever reason those marriages have been civilly disbanded and they seek to marry someone else within temple walls. As stated earlier, a clearance is sought by the male, a cancellation by the female. If the male is seeking to remarry in the temple, he is required to have a clearance. A clearance does not end previous sealings he has participated in. If the female is seeking to remarry, she is required to have a cancellation. A cancellation removes previous sealings. Women need cancellations because they cannot be sealed with more than one spouse at a time. Men need a clearance to ensure they are up to date on payments as set by the divorce decree and are not living with their former spouse in sin. Men can be sealed with more than one spouse at a time.

#2: What is the process for the Clearance/Cancellation?

Since both processes are the same, except for which box is marked at the top, which word I use is not important for this answer.

Step 1: You meet with your bishop and say you’re seeking a cancellation.
Step 2: Your bishop, stake president, former spouse, and yourself each write a letter. Your letter will state why you are seeking a cancellation, why the marriage ended, and any sins that have been committed during and after your marriage and any church discipline that has been taken to resolve those sins. Your former spouse’s letter is going to ask for their opinion on the pending cancellation (for a clearance it also asks if the former husband is up to date on payments as set by the divorce, I have not seen a requested response letter for a cancellation before so I do not know this to be true for a cancellation as well). Once your bishop, former spouse and your letter are written and received, your bishop sends them to your stake president who writes his own letter and sends them to the First Presidency.
Step 3: You wait on average three to six months (my former husband has been told the process can take up to a year) before the First Presidency gets back to you. You’ll be told if the cancellation has been granted or denied. If granted, that is it. If denied, you start the process all over again.

#3: Am I sealed to my former spouse? (Capitalization used for emphasis and clarity, not for volume)

You are not sealed TO anyone but God. You are sealed WITH your spouse in as far as you are legally married, participated in the sealing ordinance together, honor the covenants you have made AND choose to be with your spouse after you die. Even if you are married and sealed with your spouse, you DO NOT have to be with them in the hereafter—free agency is available to all, all the time. When your divorce is finalized, or covenants are broken, the sealing ordinance as far as your spouse is concerned is no longer valid. You do not covenant TO your spouse, you covenant WITH your spouse. When you and your spouse are no longer together, you are expected to hold your side of the bargain as an individual, which for the most part dribble down to honoring God. Anything covenant that requires a spouse to do (such as procreation) is no more.

#4: What about the children born in the covenant?

Children born in the covenant are sealed with their parents no matter the outcome of the marriage. No child is barred from a parent who has been excommunicated. If either parent remarries, the children are not sealed with the new spouse unless they choose to do so at the age of 18.

#5: How long do I have to wait before I seek a clearance/cancellation?

Rule of thumb is you have to be divorced for a year, and then be engaged to someone worthy of making those covenants. Exceptions are frequent for this rule.

#6: What blessings are lost with a cancellation?

This is specific to female members, because they are the only ones who have to seek a cancellation, and not understood by male members. This includes anyone in my local leadership. The general theory is the D&C scriptures that relate to polygamy. This is the question I myself am most confused about, and never received a proper response to.

#7: Does my letter have any influence?

Your letter’s impact depends on who you are. Bishop, Stake President: A lot—your opinion is the most valued as it comes from a place of church leadership. The person filing the application: A little less than Bishop and Stake President—it’s your application. The person responding to the application: little, if any—you are more likely to cause a delay than to cause a denial of the request simply because anything you say is taken with a grain of salt.

#8: What about Marie Osmond (or any other exception)?

Exceptions are made all the time regarding this process. Why, I do not know. But until you are the exception, you are the rule.

It’s also a general rule that you can only go through this process for three different individuals before you are barred. Again, exceptions are made but you are the rule until you are an exception.

#9: Where can I learn more?

There are sections written in the handbook available to all members on lds.org, otherwise the only place to learn more is to talk to your local leadership, request to look through their handbook (you are allowed access to this, you just have to ask for it) and write members of the First Presidency. Don’t expect a response from that last one though.

#10: I am engaged to someone who has to go through this, what can I do to help?

Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, you will be asked to write a letter as well. This is up to their Bishop to decide. Otherwise the most you can do is to be supportive and understand that this takes time. Do not set a date on the calendar as chances are you will have to cancel it, your significant other will be notified if their clearance/cancellation has been granted or not and you two can decide together where to go from there. You were not there when the covenants between the two were taken, and it is up to your significant other to carry the burden—because it is theirs and theirs alone. As an outsider to the relationship, nothing you say matters.