Civil Marriage and Converts



I was raised as a Missionary Baptist and plan on converting to Catholicism. I have endured a lot of changes in my personal life which have drawn me back to the Lord and to the Catholic Church. But I have questions about my status after converting. I am currently married, but my husband has filed for divorce. At the time of the marriage I was a baptized missionary baptist, but in a stage of backsliding. I did not seek the Lord’s counsel, approval or blessing on the marriage. My husband is an atheist. Our marriage took place in a courthouse with no involvement of any clergy. I am wondering how the Church will view my marriage and divorce, and what my status will be. Does the Church have authority over my marriage, since it took place place prior to my conversion to Catholicism? Will I ever be allowed to take Holy Communion as a divorced woman? Please advise.


I will let wiser people answer in more detail. But I will say that if you are divorced that will not stop you from receiving Holy Communion. What could cause you trouble is you married again. I believe that if you could have the status of the marriage looked into to see if there are grounds for annulment. But just being divorced would not be the problem


I am by no means an authority, but I do not think that a divorce of a civil marriage prior to converting will affect anything. I would suggest you contact a priest in your local parish who might be able to give more precise advice. I know there are others on this forum with much more knowledge than myself, and I’m sure they’ll chime in :slight_smile:



Hi ladies,

Thanks for chiming in and posting. I will contact my local parish and see what they suggest.


no way to answer an individual marriage question, because there are too many variables. if the worst happens and you divorce and go your separate ways, you can certainly be invited into full communion with the Catholic Church without any further action. However should you ever wish to marry again in the future your first marriage must be investigated first to see if it was valid nor not.



As a former Baptist who married an agnostic in my parent’s living room and now a Catholic convert who is divorced and seeking an annulment…I think I might be able to shed some light on this for you. Even if you are divorced, you can still be received into the Church and receive Holy Communion. If you would like to be free to marry at some point in the future you would have two options that you would need to discuss with your priest. One of those is an annulment and the other is exercising Petrine privelege. Your priest can give you more information on either of those options.

Again though, while being divorced and not entering into a new marriage, you may still fully participate in the sacraments. Please contact your parish about RCIA.


If you wish to marry again, you must be “free to marry” and that means you would require an anulment in order to marry again, if one is granted.

If you are living as a separated or divorced person, you are still able to participate in the sacraments so long as you are not comitting a mortal sin elsewhere.

As others said, speaking with a priest specifically is the best idea.


All marriages need to be investigated for validity. Getting married by a JP has no impact on validity for those not bound to Catholic form. So, you will need to discuss your situation with your priest and he will guide you. Each case is unique and individual.


Divorce does not impede you from the Eucharist or from becoming a Catholic. Only remarriage can do so. Again, talk to your priest and he will guide you.


Thanks. I contacted them about RCIA, but the next session does not begin until October:( . That seems like such a long time, but I am still excited about it.


You can still go to Mass in the meantime though…and the wait will help you to appreciate receiving the Eucharist for the first time next year all the more.


I know it feels like a long time, but the whole process of just going to mass, as Dulci said, and then starting RCIA is so wonderful. It is such a Holy time in your life ( at least from my experience ). You can also come here to CAF and learn and ask questions.


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