Can I marry?

I am a Catholic and I have been divorced for 16 years. My marriage lasted only 9 months. We were married in a registry office. I am now in my early 40s and have met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. He is also a Catholic and has asked me to marry him. He knows about my past. Can I marry him in the Church and in the eyes of God?

Probably. If you were a Catholic at the time of your first marriage and that marriage was not accomplished according to Catholic marital law because you did not receive the necessary dispensation to marry in a civil ceremony, then that marriage would have been invalid and you would be free to marry in the Catholic Church.

However, in order for the Church to determine that you are indeed free to marry in the Church, you will need to place that marriage before a marriage tribunal and receive an annulment. This is because the Church wants to look at anything that looks like a marriage may have taken place in order to ensure that the parties to a new marriage are free to marry each other. If and when you receive an annulment for your first marriage, you would then be free to marry within the Church.

I recommend talking to the pastor of your local parish for assistance in beginning the annulment process.

Recommended reading:

Annulments: What You Need to Know by Jimmy Akin
Annulments and the Catholic Church by Edward Peters

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