Can I date a divorced woman?


Can I date and eventually marry a divorced non-baptized person who did not have a sacramental wedding?



Should you?


It depends.

Was this person married to a Catholic outside of a Catholic Church? If so, since the Catholic would have a ‘defect of form’, it should be fairly easy for her to get that documentation.

But. . .what do you mean by ‘sacramental’ wedding?

If this woman married a non-Catholic in a ceremony witnessed by a justice of the peace, the wedding might not have been sacramental, but it was certainly valid. . .and she would have to pursue and be granted a decree of nullity.

If you are Catholic and looking to marry someone, be sure the person is free to marry you BEFORE you start dating. In this case, you should talk about this with your priest before you start talking to her about dating.


A teacher at my school used to say “You can but you may not”.


I think she’d need an annulment before you could date her.

Even if she could get an annulment, are you sure you want to date a non-baptized person?

If you ever got serious, wanted to marry, there would be raised all kinds of issues. She would be expected not to have premarital sex, or use contraception. Within marriage, she would be expected to use Natural Family Planning if that was appropriate.

If children came of your marriage, she would be expected to raise them Catholic.

Is she attending any church? If she is, then she would go to her church on weekends, and you would go to yours. If there are children, in the ideal, you would go, with the children, to church. She would either stay home, go somewhere nice, or to her church.

Your children would probably begin to scratch their heads, wondering why they have to go to a Catholic Church if Mommy doesn’t. Even if she were to back you up, actions speak louder than words.

Would you be able to ever pray together?

If she is not Catholic, what is she? Is she an agnostic, atheist?

Would she be okay with your going to mass, confessing to a priest, having religious articles at the house?

When it’s an non-believer or of a different faith, it’s not unusual, later on in the relationship, for there to be conflicts over religion.

Religion right now doesn’t seem like an important issue, but if you were ever to get married, have children, the probability is good that it would suddenly become an issue.

A lot of women get married hoping they can change their spouse. That’s common.
Some don’t realize the problems that can come from differences in religion.

I know it can be hard to find a good Catholic to date, but the Church strongly encourages us to marry within the faith.




you can date whomever you want


I don’t think that is true. The Church encourages people to marry someone that he/she loves and that is a morally righteous individual.


I appreciate the responses but several were presumptuous, answering a question that wasn’t asked.

I intend to have a Catholic family. Finding a good single Catholic woman in her 40s is indeed difficult to find. So if it is allowed by our Church to date someone who is a non-baptized and non-religious divorcee, with the expectation that she becomes Catholic, then bringing this woman into the fold is a good thing.

Is this doable or is she also validly married, ergo…hands off? She would otherwise have to get an annulment if possible?

Thanks again for the help.


The basic rule is very simple:

ANYONE who has been married in the past to a person who is still alive requires some type of formal action from the Catholic Church before they are free to marry another person in the Church.

Details, such as baptismal state, where the marriage was conducted, etc. will determine what options are available, but there will be some action required.

Two points that may be relevant in this case:

If the woman’s spouse was Catholic and they did not receive a dispensation from canonical form for the marriage, she is most likely eligible to apply for a decree of nullity (an annulment) for lack of canonical form. The is a straight-forward administrative process that is usually completed in less than 6 weeks.

Since she was not baptized at the time of the marriage she may meet the requirements for a dissolution of the marriage under either the Petrine or Pauline privileges.

Unlike an annulment, which is a declaration that the marriage was not valid at its inception, dissolution is a much different process that ends a non-sacramental, but valid, marriage (or a sacramental marriage that was never consummated). The criteria for eligibility for a dissolution are very restrictive.


Correct, technically.
About a year and a half ago, we had our annual Parish Appreciation dinner, to which I was invited a one of the Lectors. I invited a younger woman who I worked with at the time, albeit just as a social occasion and nothing more than that. She understood that’s all it was.
As soon as my Pastor found out she was “fallen away” as well as divorced (at least once), he almost went ballistic. Amazing how even a Priest can jump to conclusions!


I think it truly depends on what you mean by “date”.

The difficulty in “dating”, meaning that you are publically pursuing a romantic relationship with an openness to marriage, is that it can cause scandal. While you may not be committing any clear sins, you may be causing scandal to those around you, and may be leading yourself to the possibility of a good amount of emotional pain if an annulment isn’t granted.

Now, if you mean “dating” in terms of simply going out and socializing with another person, then, as long as it wouldn’t cause scandal, and you are honest with yourself and with her, I don’t think there is harm



Dating is dating. The later is not dating…but socializing as friends.

I do think its not about scandal…its about dating a married person. I am just trying to figure out the rules for dating a person who was married.

So if a Catholic woman married outside the Church without a dispensation then they were not validly married but would still need some type of annulment?


Like I can punch anyone I want. I can do it if I want to but its against the “rules”. :wink:

The question is, is the divorced person I want to date still a married person???


Scandal and dating a person who is presumed to be married are both factors.

Can. 1060 Marriage enjoys the favour of law. Consequently, in doubt the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven.

Canon 1085 §2 Even though the previous marriage is invalid or for any reason dissolved, it is not thereby lawful to contract another marriage before the nullity or the dissolution of the previous one has been established lawfully and with certainty.

Even the lack of form situation is not necessarily as cut and dry as one might expect. I have heard of cases where the parties either didn’t know about or had forgotten about a dispensation from canonical form. In one case, a priest, knowing of the couple’s intention to marry outside the Church, requested and received the dispensation, thinking it would be in the best interest of the couple for the marriage to be valid. Unfortunately, he lost contact with them and was not able to inform them of the dispensation. Of course, such circumstances are very unusual, but they do happen.


Some 13 years ago, I went through a divorce, and doubted that an Annulment was possible. After all, over 20 years of marriage PLUS 2 children…that’s sort of hard to declare as “invalid”.
Nevertheless, when my Pastor gave me a booklet on Annulments, I noticed one item in there that could easily be applied in my case. So, I pursued the matter. Two years later, the Declaration of Invalidity was approved by the Court of First Instance, and then by the Court of Second Instance (an appeals procedure).
You may ask: “Under what circumstances could it be annulled?”, and that would be a good question. Without getting into the specifics, let me refer to my religious background which accompanies this message. I was born Jewish, and had no intentions on making any changes in order to marry. However, she wanted some “agreements”, and since they all seemed reasonable to me…at that time… I went along with it. As it turned out, all of those agreements were violations of Church teaching! When I eventually became Roman Catholic, we never had a “convalidation” ceremony, nor did we change our agreements.
Because marriage is supposed to be unconditional, that detracted from the sacramental nature of the marriage, and so the Declaration of Invalidity was approved.
That is the long and the short of it. As for the “why” of her walking out of what I thought was a good marriage, I don’t know what her rationale was, nor do I care to find out. It’s more than a decade later, and she has not remarried (And if she shows up on my doorstep, she will remain unmarried!).


Yes, but adultery is the more grave sin here than scandal…one begets the other.
I want to deal with avoiding adultery by not dating someone who is still considered married.

I have gotten many different opinions here. Thanks for the posts everyone. I’ll have to do more research but I have a better idea of what is licit and not licit. Essentially, I can’t date any human person who has been divorced unless some type of dissolution or annulment has taken place…I think. :wink:



I’m in the same situation.

It seems we can sabotage a relationship before it gets rolling by being over scrupulous. I’m over 50 and rarely do I meet a lady over 30 who has not been married!

How does one “interview” the lady towards eligibility of marriage without alienating her? it seems the way we are wired, by God, to fall in love is a quick natural matter. It can happen before any “legalities” can be or even should be ascertained. Heck 4 or 5 dates can imprint some serious feelings towards each other. For me it would appear I would have to determine a ladies “eligibility” for marriage on the 3rd date. if that doesn’t scare her away I don’t know what will!

So does one shun all previously married ladies? Can we legitimately instigate a relationship without knowing we can progress freely towards a fulfilled marriage?

My point being is I am trying to determine my “right” to date a lady, to even fan the flames of love without being able to follow through due to her previous marital status.

I don’t know….



The plain and simple fact is that if she is not LEGALLY married to anyone, you may certainly DATE her. Under the civil laws of the land, you may also marry her if she is willing. However, under the rules of the Church, she may still be considered “married” even though she is legally not married. Thus, if you were to marry her, it would have to be outside of the reach of the Church. Would the civil authorities come and throw either or both of you into jail? Of course not.
Further, there is NOTHING that says that you have to go and marry anyone if you wish to remain single. I have many female friends who I have never dated, but we are still good friends. In most cases, we will probably remain friends even if it never becomes “romantic”. Would I date any of them? Yes. Would I marry any of them? I can think of a few who I would strongly consider, and some who I would not ever give any thought to marrying for one reason or other. That’s not really the point.
However, in no case would I allow the man-made rules of the Church to interfere with my own decision. If push came to shove, I’d consider moving away, and not telling anyone that my wife was previously married but not annulled. (By the way, I am not interested in marriage, per se. Not at my age!)
By the way, I’ve been a Justice of the Peace, and when my former Pastor heard that I had done some marriages, he was firm in his convictions that only Priests should be doing marriages. I told him that non-Catholics had the right to get married, and they were not required to do so in any particular church! The only thing I required was that if they were “churched”, they should speak with whoever was their religious “leader” before getting married. If, after that, they still wanted me to do the service, I would do so without hesitation. (Of course, I would never perform any wedding unless it was for a traditional couple: one man and one woman.)


Let’s keep the topic on the Catholicity of dating a divorced woman and not on the legality of it which is of no consequence to us really and not the purpose of this thread.


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