Can we marry in a civil ceremony to keep him in the country and have a catholic ceremony later?


#1

Hey everyone, I am engaged and have a somewhat difficult situation. My fiance is foreign and I have to marry him right away, so we don't have time to get married in the catholic church yet, if he wants to stay in the country. I am absolutely fine with marrying him right away; we want to get married as soon as possible. We want to get married in the Catholic Church, but we don't have 6 months to go through the pre-cana class, which we haven't taken yet. So my question is, can we get married with a civil ceremony just so we don't have to be separated and screw up the visa and immigration process and then later have our marriage blessed in the Catholic Church? The sacrament of matrimony is very important to us and we wouldn't consummate our marriage until it is blessed in the church. Also, we want to get married in Rome, would that make any difference in how hard it would be? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!


#2

I was married in a civil wedding and had my wedding convalidated by the church after the fact. It was very easy for us and only took a few months after our ‘first’ wedding to have our proper wedding in the church.
My suggestion to you would be to speak to your Priest about it prior to though, it will give you a clearer picture as to how easy or hard it will be for you.


#3

My cousin was in the same situation. He married his wife in a civil ceremony here in the US so his fiancee could enter the country as his wife and they had a Catholic wedding over at her hometown in Germany shortly after.

I’m not a lawyer and no expert on this kind of thing. All I remember was that there did not seem to be this incredible rush to have it recognized legally in the US. They wanted to have as little time as possible between the two ceremonies since they understood that after the US wedding and wedding reception (preemptive partying since most of the groom’s side was not going to Germany), they were still not actually married. I don’t remember it taking longer than a month from civil to sacramental. It would have been even sooner if they got it convalidated in the US. But as far as I know they had completed all of their marriage prep beforehand. Their engagement was at least a year.

I don’t think there is any moral issue with this as long as you remember your real wedding day will be the day you are validly married in the Church. You cannot consider yourselves married until then. That has to be emotionally tough if you wait too long between your civil and sacramental weddings. How long were you thinking when you say “later on”?

Talk to a priest though. He should be able to provide more information on what your options are. I don’t think your situation is that uncommon.


#4

visit your pastor today, explain the situation and follow his advice, which will depend on too many variables to discuss here. yes it can be done, with prior permission and planning (and of course you would not be living as man and wife until the Church has convalidated the marriage). No it is not something you can arrange on your own and expect the Church to automatically bless after the fact. Since immigration laws are often a huge factor in weddings here (on the border) the diocese and parishes deal with these situations all the time.


#5

Folks, I don’t know what is worse, the OP’s idea or the empowerment other posters are giving her.

OP states, “I HAVE to marry him RIGHT AWAY, so we don’t have time to get married in the catholic church yet, IF HE WANTS TO STAY IN THE COUNTRY.” (emphasis is mine).
–So in other words, the entire purpose of the civil marriage is to skirt civil law. OP is not getting married beause she loves him and will be his spouse; to the contrary, she admits she will not consider him her spouse. She’s marrying to keep guy in the country when it would otherwise be illegal to do so.
–That is, in my opinion, a) illegal; b) a misuse of the spirit of civil marriage law, if not illegal; and c) an act which contributes to the basic lack of respect for civil laws and basic morality in this country. OP admits that the “civil marriage” has no purpose beyond keeping the “fiancee” in the country.
–In other words, he has to leave and she is (misusing) marriage laws to do so.

Remember civil law is there to protect people, by keeping out of the country those who cannot lawfully enter or lawfully stay beyond a certain date. Creative use of marriage laws cannot and should not be empowered because the OP claims to be chaste.

Shame, shame, OP, and on the folks empowering it.

As to advice, comply with the law and send him home in keeping with civil marriage laws and immigration laws. If you later get married in a Church in Rome by a willing priest, after pre-marriage formalities, that is one thing. Asking for help to keep fiancee in the county by misuse of marriage laws is another.

-VdT


#6

A word of caution - be aware that you are taking on some risks. Try to do your best to at least minimize those risks.

You are going to marry (civil marriage) someone who didn’t complete marriage preparation classes with you. What if, during the pre-Cana classes, you discover some “fatal” differences that make it impossible for you guys to marry in the Church, in good conscience? E.g., what if it turns out that your fiancee does not want children, plans to contracept, or something equally grave and un-acceptable? To minimize these dangers, you would do it well to meet your priest, the both of you, and have an in-depth conversation. Possibly set aside up to two hours or even half a day, and you guys should cover as much ground as possible with your priest, even if a single meeting cannot cover as much as a full pre-Cana class of six months.

And there’s still the theoretical possibility that your civil husband will change his mind, and not go through with the sacramental marriage, once the civil marriage is procured. I don’t know your fiancee, and this is not to say that your fiancee will pull a trick like this on you. But it is a theoretical possibility, nevertheless.


#7

I hate to even talk about this, but I was in a civil marriage that never progressed to sacramental marriage, and I would NEVER EVER do it again. It created scandal (we lived as brother and sister, but how can the outsider know that?), and in retrospect I do feel I did something terribly wrong by allowing myself to be duped into a marriage that, in retrospect, was used and abused by someone to get a green card (permanent residence). I met this Russian Orthodox woman, very religious, and I fell in love with her. I married her in a civil ceremony, after we made some plans to get married sacramentally in her Eastern Orthodox Church. It never came to that sacramental marriage… I made arrangements with my Catholic priest to get the necessary dispensation to marry in a non-Catholic Church, but my civil wife changed her mind, she dragged and dragged the plans for sacramental marriage, and I later also found out that her Orthodox priest changed his mind, too, and advised her not to marry me in front of God but rather to civilly divorce me, because I’m Catholic (Russian Orthodox usually hate the Catholic Church). We had already been civilly married, living under the same roof, and our immigration process was under way, and I found out that I was living in common household with a Catholic hater, who attends a Catholic-hating Church, and I was creating scandal (people were jokingly asking if we expected any babies). Finally, we divorced. She got her permanent residence, and she filed for divorce. And I had to be grateful to her, because at least at this point she stopped leading me on. I’m not a smart guy in real life. I was incredibly played and taken advantage of, for the sake of a permanent residence in the USA. And I didn’t see it clearly, and was still hoping to get the sacramental marriage, until I got served those divorce papers. In retrospect, it was incredibly stupid and wrong what I did. But I could have avoided it all, by insisting to work out all details of the Church marriage first, leisurely and without regard to any perceived pressures on the side of visas and immigration, and should have fixed the date of Church wedding on the same day (or within a couple of days) with the civil marriage. By getting a civil marriage, without also having the Church marriage at the same time, I created an opening for misuse and abuse of the purpose of civil marriage. And my ex-civil wife, although she is a deeply religious practicing person (Russian Orthodox go with lots of strict fast, they abstain from meat, dairy, eggs for about 4 or 5 months in any given year; they patiently stand during their long 2.5-3 hour Divine Liturgies as they have no pews in their churches, and I could go on with more examples), when she had this opening to get her permanent residence by promising and later retracting her promise to marry me sacramentally, well, she used the opportunity. :o But I should have never allowed her to be tempted and to play me like that.


#8

Although the OP left out some details and could be describing one of several different scenarios (some of which could be illegal), one interpretation of her situation could be very similar to the one I was in several years ago. My wife entered the U.S. on a K-1 (fiancee) visa. I had petitioned for her to come to the U.S. for the express purpose of marrying me. (I filled out LOTS of forms and sent LOTS of money to Uncle Sam.) One of the conditions of her admittance to the U.S. was that she had to marry me within 90 days of her arrival. (I think it was 90 days…it’s be awhile.) If the marriage did not take place during those 90 days, she would lose her status and would be required to leave the U.S.

So…to suggest that the OP is acting in a dishonest manner could be wildly jumping to a false conclusion.

*Shame, shame, OP, and on the folks empowering it. *

Just a bit dramatic, don’t you think?


#9

[quote="rick43235, post:8, topic:214059"]
Although the OP left out some details and could be describing one of several different scenarios (some of which could be illegal), one interpretation of her situation could be very similar to the one I was in several years ago. My wife entered the U.S. on a K-1 (fiancee) visa. I had petitioned for her to come to the U.S. for the express purpose of marrying me. (I filled out LOTS of forms and sent LOTS of money to Uncle Sam.) One of the conditions of her admittance to the U.S. was that she had to marry me within 90 days of her arrival. (I think it was 90 days...it's be awhile.) If the marriage did not take place during those 90 days, she would lose her status and would be required to leave the U.S.

So....to suggest that the OP is acting in a dishonest manner could be wildly jumping to a false conclusion.

[/quote]

Yes the marriage must take place in 90 days then status must be adjusted to obtain the two year green card. The US thinks there is a high probability of a scam marriage so a permanent green card is not issued until the couple proves there marriage during those two years.


#10

[quote="catholicgirl3, post:1, topic:214059"]
Hey everyone, I am engaged and have a somewhat difficult situation. My fiance is foreign and I have to marry him right away, so we don't have time to get married in the catholic church yet, if he wants to stay in the country. I am absolutely fine with marrying him right away; we want to get married as soon as possible. We want to get married in the Catholic Church, but we don't have 6 months to go through the pre-cana class, which we haven't taken yet. So my question is, can we get married with a civil ceremony just so we don't have to be separated and screw up the visa and immigration process and then later have our marriage blessed in the Catholic Church? The sacrament of matrimony is very important to us and we wouldn't consummate our marriage until it is blessed in the church. Also, we want to get married in Rome, would that make any difference in how hard it would be? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

[/quote]

Schedule an appointment with your priest and explain the entire situation. See what he's willing to do. His response will be based on a number of factors. Sometimes they can rush you through marriage prep to get you married in the Catholic Church in a hurray. I have a friend who was engaged for only 2 months. That said, you would have to throw out the dream of having a wedding in Rome.

Honestly, I'd skirt the whole complication of having a wedding in Rome. That's just going to give you a huge headache and will become really expensive quickly. The most important thing is receiving the sacrament.

So overall do talk with your priest to figure out what your options are and what he's willing to work with you on. Do not get married civilly first unless your priest agrees to this. Heck, my sister had her wedding scheduled for almost a year and her husband procrastinated on getting his birth certificate. They had to go to the judge to get permission to get their marriage license without his birth certificate. They only got it like a couple hours before the ceremony. The priest told them that they were this close to having a really expensive engagement party.


#11

[quote="VonDerTann, post:5, topic:214059"]
Folks, I don't know what is worse, the OP's idea or the empowerment other posters are giving her.

OP states, "I HAVE to marry him RIGHT AWAY, so we don't have time to get married in the catholic church yet, IF HE WANTS TO STAY IN THE COUNTRY." (emphasis is mine).
--So in other words, the entire purpose of the civil marriage is to skirt civil law. OP is not getting married beause she loves him and will be his spouse; to the contrary, she admits she will not consider him her spouse. She's marrying to keep guy in the country when it would otherwise be illegal to do so.
--That is, in my opinion, a) illegal; b) a misuse of the spirit of civil marriage law, if not illegal; and c) an act which contributes to the basic lack of respect for civil laws and basic morality in this country. OP admits that the "civil marriage" has no purpose beyond keeping the "fiancee" in the country.
--In other words, he has to leave and she is (misusing) marriage laws to do so.

Remember civil law is there to protect people, by keeping out of the country those who cannot lawfully enter or lawfully stay beyond a certain date. Creative use of marriage laws cannot and should not be empowered because the OP claims to be chaste.

Shame, shame, OP, and on the folks empowering it.

As to advice, comply with the law and send him home in keeping with civil marriage laws and immigration laws. If you later get married in a Church in Rome by a willing priest, after pre-marriage formalities, that is one thing. Asking for help to keep fiancee in the county by misuse of marriage laws is another.

-VdT

[/quote]

This is what ran through my mind as well. Well said mate.


#12

It really seems to me that, if the OP could, she and her fiance would marry in the Catholic Church right now. However, given the preparation requirements in the Catholic Church (which are requirements for good reason), that's not possible. The express purpose of the marriage is, yes, to keep him in the country. However, the express purpose of keeping him in the country seems to be so that they can be married.

That being said, I agree with everyone who suggested that you talk to a priest. I assume that it would be important if you've already established that you're maritally compatible. (You didn't mention how long you've been together.) For instance, if you've only been together for a few months, this situation probably wouldn't work out--that is, getting married civilly and getting married in the Church as soon as possible. That would be a real bummer to get married civilly and then realize you shouldn't get married at all. As long as you're confident in your compatibility and the priest you talk to is similarly confident, I don't see how this would be horrible. Just be careful. There may be a good reason to put marriage plans on hold.

God bless! I hope you make the best decision.


#13

Thank you for telling your story, the op needs to hear it. I also know someone who was burned like this. Americans are routinely used like this so foreigners can enter the country. In our case it was my sil’s cousin who was in the Army and stationed in the Phillipines. They got married over there, had a child and when he got out, they moved back here to the states. They hadn’t been here for very long when she dumped him like a hot rock and filled for divorce. She now has citizenship and is living here, she’s also Catholic.:frowning:

Catholicgirl3, your post has red flags screaming all over it. I would advise against this for your sake. Have you discussed this with your family and your friends? Yes, do discuss this with your priest.


#14

Thank you to everyone for their replies, I see now I should’ve given more of a thorough explanation. We have everything squared away with the government, absolutely nothing here is being done illegally or for wrong purposes. My fiance is not from a poor country where he’s just after the American dream. We have been together for a very long time and our families are close friends, having been friends since before either me or my fiance were born, so there is absolutely no doubt over the compatibility of the two of us or our intentions of getting married. If I was after legal advice, I wouldn’t have posted this question on a Catholic forum :). We just wanted to know if there was a way to get married in the Catholic Church more quickly than the normal 6-8 months of preparation time first before we went and talked to our priest so we’d know what to expect.
With that being said, we’ve met with our priest and everything is good to go! We don’t even have to have a civil ceremony, we will be able to complete our marriage preparation and get married in the Catholic sacrament within the government’s time limits :slight_smile: Thanks to everyone who was supportive for your advice!


#15

That's great! Congratulations, and may God bless your marriage!


#16

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