Catholic Teaching on Dating Someone Divorced?


I think I know the answer to this but just want to make sure.

What is the Catholic Teaching on Dating Someone Divorced?

I believe the teaching is even if the person is divorced legally, God still views the marriage intact due to the vows of promising to marry till the end of life.

If the above is true, doesn’t it mean that someone who is single all their life cannot marry someone who is divorced because God sees the divorced person as really still being married within the eyes of the Church?

Holding these views, what if the divorced person is interested in dating someone of the opposite sex who had never married? Is it wrong for the single person to date the divorced person because dating really is a possible means to an end and that end is marriage.

Therefore it would never make sense for the single person to date the opposite gender divorced person because it can never really in a sense lead to marriage (unless the divorced person’s spouse dies of course).

So if all the above is true, how would the single person explain this to others at work who think they should date the divorced person?

How would you explain it?




If this divorced person was not married in the Catholic church then I don’t think it is a problem. God does not view this marriage as valid so in that case, it would be ok to date a divorced person. On the other hand, if it was a Catholic marriage and they got divorced then there would really be no point in dating them (unless it was annulled or the spouse died). You can’t marry this person in the Church so you’re just setting yourself up for hurt or sin.

Unless those people at work share your Catholic beliefs, I think trying to explain it to them is futile. Most people will think it is outdated and too strict seeing as how high the divorce rate is today.


Not quite. All marriages are considered valid (though not necessarily sacramental) unless and until proven not to be so. A civilly divorced person is still married, as far as the Church is concerned. A Catholic is not free to marry an already married person, regardless of the other person’s religious affiliation. If the person you are interested in is not free to marry, what would be the point of dating him?


Frankly, I think the better rule is to avoid dating a divorced person altogether, even if you think he has good grounds for an annulment. Otherwise, you risk succumbing to pride that would lead to you place yourself in a false position with respect to the Church.

You also set yourself up for heartbreak: dollars to doughnuts, you haven’t got all the relevant facts. That other person might not be entitled to an annulment after all, or he might be unable to attempt remarriage even if the annulment is granted.


“I appreciate your suggestion, but I’m not interested.” If they press you for a reason, you could explain that you believe that marriage is for life and that even though the state recognizes divorce, your Church doesn’t.


I guess my mom was wrong. She told me that since she wasn’t married in the Catholic church and she got a divorce, she could remarry someone in the Church. I guess I should update her.


If a simple “I’m not interested” doesn’t work, then I’d explain that I’m not comfortable dating divorced people. Not only does your religion frown on it, it would seem to point to a relationship problem in the divorced person. But, on the whole I wouldn’t be too worried about explaining my dating preferences to my co-workers!


If your mom was Catholic when she married outside the Church then her marriage would not have been valid, and she can, in fact, marry in the Church.


It is not her call to make. If she has already received a decree of nullity, and that was the reason she was given by the tribunal, then she is free to marry in the Church should she find someone who is also eligible to marry.

Only a marriage tribunal can determine the validity of the wedding. It is not up to the people involved to determine that. Only the Church can determine whether a couple was validly wed or not, even when there seems to be strong evidence that there was no valid marriage.


Simply by saying, “Not interested.” Anything further is optional.


I’m a convert to Catholicism. Before that, I was married and divorced. But it was, and is, my understanding that if I wanted to get married, or become a religious, I would need an annulment. So, about a year after my entering the Church I applied for an annulment. It wasn’t an automatic thing. It took about a year for it to be formal.

Other than that, I guess it would be up to the person who wanted to date a divorced person. Some will be more sensitive about it. But to give a big, fat NO is going a bit too far. I’d say that if you had questions, go to your priest, but even priests may not agree on the issue.


A wise person does not date someone of another Faith. If you make that first on your list of non-negotiables, then, when friends suggest you ask someone out, your first question can be “is he/she Catholic?”

A Catholic should know the Church laws that govern marriage.


I’ve been biting my tongue to make a comment, I think there are two things that need to be avoided:

  1. Blaming the Church for the situation, e.g. “The Catholic Church doesn’t allow me to date divorced people.” This statement, first of all, is not correct. There as no law, as far as I know, specifically regarding dating a divorced person. There are, however, beliefs about the nature of marriage and adultery that lead a believer to make the decision to not date a divorced person.

The reason this sort of statement is problematic is that it creates a wedge between the Church and those to whom you’re talking. The statement basically says that there’s you on one side, and them on the other, and the Church in between dictating your life. That’s not reality. You don’t believe things because you’re Catholic, you’re Catholic because you have certain beliefs. It might seem like a small difference, but it can mean the difference between seeing Catholicism as a cult-like collection of rules and a belief system. Keep in mind that many people who know nothing about Catholicism and for some, this may end up being one of 10 things they ever learn about the Church.

  1. Avoid Pride. Maybe it’s not so much for this situation as it is for the replies, but as I’ve posted before, the sin of Pride is rampant in this forum sometimes, with people trying to be “more Catholic” than others and taking things to an extreme: it’s more of a competition than anything else. This is a large part of why I see many young Catholics chased away from the Church and scared to ever ask a question.

If you’re going to give a response to these people, and mention Church teachings, stating it in a way that makes you seem like you’re better than them (because presumably they would date a divorced person), needs to be avoided, as does unsolicited statements regarding the “appropriateness” of dating non-Catholics.

Simply by saying, “Not interested.” Anything further is optional.

That’s the best advice in the thread.


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