Converting Catholic-Multiple Marriage/Divorce To Same Person?

I am converting to Catholicism and have a bit of a…strange and hard to follow situation I’d like opinions on. I have bullet pointed some things that I believe will be key factors in peoples responses. Again, bear with me, I know this is strange.

To start:

-Both my wife and I are non-Catholics

-I am a baptized (Southern Baptist), she was baptized in a Baptist church but has no certificate. I do.

-All marriages were civil ceremonies done by either judges or in the final case, a small town Mayor (legal in my state).

-My wife and I have only ever been married to each other, and minus the 6-7 months we were not together or living together, have been with each other for 17 years.

-I haven’t had the chance to discuss it with my priest as of yet.

So, my wife and I married for the first time at 19. As can be imagined, issues cropped up, we divorced for approximately 3 months. We got remarried.

About a year later due to some mental health issues on her part that came to light, we divorced again. Again, about 3-4 months went by, we remarried.

There was a period of relative stability before divorcing again. This time, we realized that a pattern was emerging, and stayed together but did not remarry.

After four or five years of bring together but not marriage, we got remarried for the last time and all has been right sense. This makes 3 divorces and 4 remarriages total.

Though it isn’t a defense, we were incredibly immature for a very long time and did not take marriage seriously, as we do now. We had our children early, her mental health issues, and other things that we let get in the way of our relationship and divorce was all to easy of a solution. As we got older and matured, we realized marriage was a serious commitment and we finally made it in 2013 and have not looked back.

With all that being said, my question is in relation to coming into the Church. As all my marriages were civil only and to the same person, based on what I can find and understand, there is no reason for any annulment or anything else to take place prior to coming into the Church. However, I am by no means an expert and don’t know for sure.

Could anyone shed anymore light on this? I know it’s complicated, but I appreciate any advice or comments. Thank you!

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The Church would likely consider your first marriage to still be in force despite all the subsequent divorces and remarriages.

Since you have only ever been married to one woman , the same one you’re married to now, and she has only ever been married to one man (you), the Church will see you as still married to her. I can’t see any need for an annulment or similar process, since that would normally be for a case where you had been previously married to Spouse A and now wished to be married in the Church to Spouse B. You’re still married to A and want to stay married to A.

Please talk to your priest about what might be needed to “bring your marriage into the Church” once one or both of you have converted to Catholicism. It will likely be pretty simple.

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I would guess that since the Church does not accept divorce, you were never divorced in the eyes of the Church. It will be an exciting thing for you both to talk over with your priest - Is your wife also converting?

RCIA is the Teaching part of becoming a Catholic (“Make disciples, baptizing them…” [you are baptized] " and Teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.") The Church is now completing you in your citizenship in the Kingdom established by God, by teaching you and the Bishop will confirm you are both Baptized and Taught and fully in sync with the Church; whereupon he will seal you in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

You will not be treated harshly; you will be shown what you need to do and how. You are going to be one of us, and all will be in good order, including your marriage.

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Thank you both for your replies. What you’ve said is what I thought to be the case, but its nice to have others offer there more learned opinions.

John_Martin,

As of now, my wife isn’t converting. She has had some difficult things happen to her that cause her to be skeptical of organized religion in general, but she still has faith and believes. She is what I’d call a seeker. As much as I’d love it to be together, I am going through RCIA alone. However, I have faith that as she learns and attends Mass she will see what I have in the Church.

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The strengthening of your marriage is in my prayers .

Are you in RCIA yet? Just read you are.
Is your wife also converting likely or is this going to take some time to decide for her?
You sound like childhood sweethearts.
I think wait till you can discuss this with the Priest.
Only because how he decides to proceed in a Sacramental marriage for you and your wife will be dependent on if she is converting, or what she wants.

Anything else we say here is only presumption and could lead you down a rabbit hole.

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You are correct, you are married.

Non-Catholics mary validly when they marry civilly.

Both the OP and his wife are baptized. Their marriage is already sacramental.

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She has no certificate, this may be a stumbling block. And I am specifically talking about a Catholic marriage as in would the Priest convalidate the marriage or what he sees fit to do in the Catholic Church. As compared to civil
Ceremonies.

I should have specified Catholic marriage.

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You are correct about the certificate. From my memory, because we no longer live in that state, I believe the Baptist church she was baptized at is now a gas station. So, while we know she is baptized, neither of us have any way of proving it.

Even I cant vouch for her, as it happened when I wasn’t present. If she were to eventually follow me into the Church through RCIA, I assume she’d need to do a conditional baptism when the time came.

Not at all. A certificate is not a requirement.

No, no, no. Two non-Catholics marry validly when they marry civilly.

Convalidation is for invalid marriages. Which they do not have. Converts do not convalidate their already valid and sacramental marriages when they enter the Church.

She is not converting. If she were, she would need only an affidavit of baptism from someone who witnessed it (including herself if she was an older child or adult when baptized.). Conditional baptism is only if there is absolutely no proof of baptism.

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An affidavit of baptism will suffice. She can vouch for herself if she was old enough to remember it, and so could anyone who witnessed it.

A conditional baptism would only be done as a last resort if true doubt remained.

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She was an adult, I believe 22-23 years old. So she could vouch on her own.

Thank you for clarifying, I appreciate the information.

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Ike I am confused by your responses . What is convalidation for then, and how do they become a catholic marriage as opposed to civil.
I know a catholic and non religious Baptised by laity who then had their marriage con validated by a priest after being married civilly.

I do know some priests won’t accept might or might not be Baptised as a child. It clears it up that she was adult as long as it is a Catholic accepted form

Can this convert not have his marriage blessed or be married in the church once he converts

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It is for people who are in an invalid marriage to give new consent to make it valid.

The OP is already in a valid marriage.

Civil marriages are valid between non-Catholics. Their marriage is valid. They are also both baptized so it is also already a sacrament.

There isn’t anything to do. Their marriage is valid and sacramental.

That is a different situation. A Catholic marrying anyone— including a non-Catholic— must either marry in Catholic form or receive a dispensation or the marriage isn’t valid. This would be a case where convalidation is needed.

The OP’s situation is entirely different because neither he nor his wife are Catholics. Therefore they were NOT bound by the ecclesial laws of the Church regarding the form of their marriage. Their marriage is valid. Nothing to convalidate.

No, he’s already married. There is nothing to convalidate.

The couple can receive a nuptial blessing, but that does not make their marriage any more valid than it already is nor does it make it “Catholic”.

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When a person converts to Catholicism does the marriage then become invalid

Persons not yet Catholic, civil wedding, ok.
One then converts, is his marriage then considered invalid or not priperly ordered according to Canon Law

No.

Correct.

No.

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