Church wedding after a civil marriage & civil divorce


May someone who had a civil marriage followed by a civil dovorce then marry in the church


perhaps, you need to get a decree of nullity for your first marriage. i would speak to your parish priest


Insufficient information. You haven’t even said if one or both of the couple is baptised or not.


Assuming the first spouse is still alive, we would need a decree of nullity from the marriage tribunal to marry in the Church. The difficulty depends on various factors. Were the people in the first marriage Catholic, were they baptized Christian in another Church, were they unbaptized?


Baptism doesn’t necessarily make a difference in the US, at least. I was Baptized Lutheran, was married civilly to an un-Baptized man, divorced, and am now in the annulment process. Even though neither of us was Catholic and he was then and still is un-Baptized, the Church still considers the marriage valid until the Tribunal says otherwise.

Now, that said, a Baptized person who married an un-Baptized person and divorced and who now wants to marry a Catholic can try having the marriage dissolved through the Petrine Privilege. However, those cases must be sent to Rome and can take a very long time to be resolved. I’ve heard anywhere from 6 months to 3+ years.

Additionally, the Petitioner (seeker of dissolution) cannot have been the cause of the breakdown of the conjugal relationship, the person the Petitioner is seeking to marry cannot have been the cause of the breakdown of the conjugal relationship, the Petitioner must have met all legal and moral obligations to their former spouse and any children born of the marriage, and the marriage must not have been consummated if the un-Baptized party later became Baptized.

Obviously, not all people who married un-Baptized persons will qualify for dissolution through the Petrine Privilege and those that do may want to go through a standard annulment as it may be faster depending on your diocese.

Tawny, was the previously married person a Baptized Catholic at the time of the civil marriage? If so, did that person get dispensation to marry civilly? The Church requires all Catholics to marry within the Church or to have a dispensation to marry otherwise. If the a Catholic marries outside the Church without dispensation, the marriage is invalid and becomes a Lack of Form case, which is very quick and easy to resolve as long as the Catholic can present their Baptism certificate and marriage license showing the ceremony was performed outside the Church. Usually, those cases only take a few weeks.

If the Catholic was not the one previously married in a civil ceremony the best thing to do is talk to the parish priest and begin the annulment process so, if the annulment is granted, there can be a Church wedding.


Baptism and being Catholic can indeed make a difference. The country is irrelevant.

Can. 1086 §1 A marriage is invalid when one of the two persons was baptised in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not by a formal act defected from it, and the other was not baptised.

Can. 1124 Without the express permission of the competent authority, marriage is prohibited between two baptised persons, one of whom was baptised in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act, the other of whom belongs to a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the catholic Church.


If they are determined free to marry, yes.

That may take a petition related to a decree of nullity. That may take a dissolution of the bond via the Pauline or Petrine Privilege. That may take a finding of lack of form. That may take a Ligamen case. That may take the death of the first spouse.

So, there are many ways in which a person can be found free to marry another even after a prior attempt at marriage.

Or, the individual may be found to be in a valid marriage with a living spouse and therefore determined not free to marry.

It is best to start by making an appointment with one’s pastor to discuss the details of one’s individual circumstances.


The boldfaced part of the text was modified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.


Thanks for the info. I wasn’t up to date.


You didn’t specify whom that person would be marrying. If two people have a civil marriage and then obtain a civil divorce, they are certainly free to marry each other in the Church, as long as no other impediments are present. A marriage in the Church before the appropriate minister would always include a civil “remarriage”.

As for marrying other people, advice has already been presented in that respect.


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