Catholic marrying a divorced non-catholic

Dear all,

I have searched through the net to look for an answer, however, I am just not sure which is a correct answer for me, can you help me?

I am a Catholic and intend to marry a divorced non-catholic (Buddhist) on Nov 2010. Her ex-husband is also a non-catholic (Buddhist). Their paper work for their divorce case is not settled yet but can be finalised earliest on June 2010. They did not have any kind of wedding ceremony and celebration, they had only signed a legal marriage certificate, so will their marriage be considered valid? By the way, there is no child for thier marriage.

Do I need to apply for annullment? How long will it take for this to be solved? Will I be able to make it if I want to have a church wedding on Nov 2010?

I am worry and frustrated. Please advise.

Thanks for your help.


Hi, Anthony.

We probably need more information to answer your question.

*]Have you ever been married?
*]What is the state of your first marriage, if any?

A marriage certificate provides the necessities for a civil marriage, which the Church respects as well. But, given the woman is a Buddhist, it is not a sacramental marriage and may be handled under a dispensation or Petrine Privilege–IF *she *is converting to Catholicism.

You would not need to apply for an annulment or Favor of the Faith dissolution unless you have been married before.

I should note that having a relationship with someone whose divorce is not complete, much less to whom you are not married to, is a grave matter. Trend very carefully here.

And, a more important question is: Why the rush to marry? A typical parish requires at least 6 months advance notice–and if she is divorced, the marriage prep process alone, combined with whatever nullity or dissolution requirements are needed, will easily prevent a marriage before the end of the year.

Hi Spencerian,

I have never been married before.
So if it is a dispension, how long will it take? Will we be able to make it in Nov 2010?

Thanks for your reply.
Billions of appreciation.


Hi Spencerian,

She is 32 this year and not very healthy. We want to have childrens, any delay may prevent us from achieving that.

We have 8.5 months left to go. Can we make it?


as usual with annulment questions, not enough info. don’t give the info hear. The Catholic party needs to make an appointment with her priest if she wishes to marry anyone. She cannot make that appointment until she is engaged to someone who is free to marry. A man who is still married to another lady–and the Catholic Church considers marriages between 2 non-Catholics to be valid until proven otherwise–cannot become engaged to another woman, and other woman cannot even be thinking about marriage until that man’s first marriage has irretreivable broken down beyond hope of reconciliation AND the Church has investigated that first marriage to determine if it was valid. That means, were the conditions necessary for a valid contract in place at the time of the marriage (nothing that happened afterward is relevant).

ONce this person has obtained a civil divorce, if the divorced non-Catholic wants to marry a Catholic, he will have to submit the facts of his first marriage to the Catholic Canon Law Tribunal of his diocese, or of the diocese where he got married, for an investigation. Only IF and when his first marriage is judged invalid are they free to start marriage preparation and set a date.

The Catholic party needs to visit her priest today for advice on how to proceed, both for pastoral care and correct understanding of Church teaching on marriage, and most important for counsel relevant to her own personal situation. No you cannot apply for annulment on behalf of another couple. One of them has to do it.

Do not set dates. This person is NOT free to marry. Resolve all marriage issues prior to setting a date. She isn’t even divorced for heaven’s sake!

Yes, two non-baptized people who marry civilly marry validly. She has a prior bond. This means she is NOT free to marry you.

No. She does. You cannot apply for a decree of nullity. The person with the prior bond can petition the tribunal to examine the marriage for validity.

(a) It may not be “solved.” The tribunal might find her marriage to be valid. In which case she is NOT free to marry, period. So, again, do not set any dates nor get attached to a person who is not free to marry.

(b) If the tribunal does take the case, it depends upon the diocese how long it takes. It could be 6 months, or it could be 2 years. And, the case cannot be submitted until the civil divorce is finalized.

You and she need to go sit down witih the priest right now. In addition to her freedom to marry, you will also need to complete the required marital preparation in the Catholic Church. Additionally, a Catholic must get a dispensation from the Bishop to marry a non-baptized person.

Step one: Make an appointment with your priest.

Step two: Stop making plans for Nov 2010. You need to slow down, her freedom to marry needs to be established before any dates are set, and you need to complete premarital preparation in the Catholic Church.

And, on a much more practical level, dating a woman who isn’t even divorced yet is a bad idea. She may be on the rebound. And, of course, one wonders what role you played in the breakdown of their marriage if you are already planning a wedding and her divorce isn’t even final.

This statement is not accurate: But, given the woman is a Buddhist, it is not a sacramental marriage and may be handled under a dispensation or Petrine Privilege–IF she is converting to Catholicism.

The Petrine Privilege does not apply when both parties were unbaptized. The Pauline Privilege **may **apply if she is seeking baptism and that is the reason the husband is leaving her. However, there is no indication in the original post that she wants to become a Catholic or that this is the reason the marriage is breaking up. The Pauline Privilege isn’t for just any old reason, it must be that the unbaptized person seeks baptism and the other party refuses to live peacefully with them because of it. Typically Pauline Privilege applies when the unbaptized spouse leaves after the other spouse becomes baptized.

Also, neither the Pauline nor the Petrine privilege are “dispensations.” They are dissolutions of a natural marriage bond. One can be done by the Bishop, the other is reserved to the Pope.

Thanks for the clarifications, 1ke. I’ve gone through the Pauline Privilege myself very recently, and I didn’t mean to suggest that it or its Petrine counterpart are “dispensations”, as, yes, they are different things.

A Pauline Privilege can also work when a spouse leaves a natural union to become baptized.

First she has to complete the civil divorce

Second she has to petition for an annulment if she wants to marry in the catholic church

Third she has to either convert or you have to request a dispensation.

You have a timeline problem becuase each step has to be complete before the next step (except conversion should she chose it). It is not complicated but it is slow. Depending on how long ago the first attempted marriage split, a reasonable waiting period should be considered.

hope that helps

If you intend to be married in the Catholic Church you need to make an appointment with a priest ASAP; he will be able to advise you according to your unique situation. Most dioceses have a minimum of six months waiting period (mine is 9 months) so you should call today or tomorrow.

Not sure if this was mentioned or not, but she cannot even file for an annulment or Pauline Privilege until after her civil divorce is final. My fiance’s annulment took about 9 months from the time he applied, but I have heard of annulment cases take up to 2 years to be resolved. There is also no guarantee an annulment will be granted.

The Pauline Privilege does take less time than the full annulment process but only applies to certain cases. Mine was approved because neither myself or my first husband where baptized, I am converting and will be baptized, the marriage failed through no fault of mine (my ex moved in with the woman he was having an affair with) and I will be marrying a baptized Catholic that is free to marry. I will be baptized at the Easter Vigil this year but I cannot marry until AFTER I am baptized. So if she wants to convert she would probably be able to get the Pauline Privilege, but she would need to go through RCIA, which generally means she would not be baptized until Easter Vigil 2010.

Either way you need to talk with your priest and get this resolved before you will be able to set a wedding date. In my diocese (and I assume all diocese) they will not allow a couple to set a wedding date until it is clear that both parties are free to marry, then once you are able to set a wedding date you have to notify the church at least 6 months in advance (this lead time varies by diocese) and participate in pre-cana.

Anthony9, don’t you think your questions should be taken to your Parish Priest instead of asking lay people on a forum.

I assume you want to have your marriage ceremony performed by a Catholic Priest. He is the only one who can put your mind at ease and November is not that far away. Most churches book weddings far in advance.

To late to edit my post, but I should have said “she would not be baptized until Easter Vigil 2011

You are dating a married woman, and making plans to marry her. You are on the verge or already committing the sin of adultery.

Go to your priest, confess your sin, and stop dating married ladies!

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