Dating After Divorce


What is the guidance for dating after divorce? I was married to a man who had never been baptized, we obtained a dispensation for disparity of cult. I had thought I was incapable of having children because of a health problem, and he was okay with that. However I became pregnant a few months after our marriage, which was a wonderful surprise and a blessing for me. Unfortunately he was furious and our marriage fell apart as a result.

This was six years ago. We are now divorced, and I have met a nice Catholic man. My question is, am I okay to date this man? I understand my previous marriage can be dissolved since it was a non-sacramental union, but I must have someone I wish to marry before I can submit a petition to have the marriage dissolved. This would imply that I would have to be dating someone first. However I get conflicting guidance because some family members don’t think I should date unless I have the marriage dissolved.

I would like to continue to date this man and am excited about the possibility of a long-term relationship, but I don’t want to do the wrong thing. So far our relationship has been very chaste, we see each other only a few times per month and always in public places.

Just wondering what the protocol is. Thank you!


It seems someone gave you some faulty information. A non-sacramental marriage may be valid (to attempt to have a valid marriage was the reason you sought that disparity of cult).

You will need to submit a request for the investigation of your marriage to your Diocese Tribunal. They will review the marriage and see if it was valid when contracted.

Until your marriage is reviewed, you would be wise to refrain from dating. You may be validly married to your husband and not be free to date. If that is the case, you could end up hurting both this other man and your self - not to mention your child.

If you go up to the top of this page where it says “shop” and type in “annulments”, you will get a link to Jimmy Akin’s booklet on the topic. That is a great place to begin to educate yourself.

Stay close to Jesus, prayers for you.


Seems to be a catch 22. If you are divorced from a non-sacramental marriage you can submit a petition for Petrine Privilege, but only if you have a catholic person that you want to marry. You would have to be dating that someone first.

Unless I’m wrong (I’ve been trying to research this), when a non-sacramental marriage is dissolved there is no question of validity. It is assumed to be valid, but dissolved in favor of the faith.


Your Tribunal is going to be the place to begin. They will work with you to find out what can/should be done.


**If one of the spouses was not baptized during the first marriage, and the lack of baptism can be proven (provided the person applying for this process did not cause the marital breakdown), then a “Privilege of the Faith” case (or “Petrine Privilege” case) can be sent to the Holy See. If the Holy See approves, the non-sacramental marriage may then be dissolved in favor of a new marriage. Parties wishing to pursue a Privilege of the Faith case should contact their parish priest, deacon, or pastoral minister for information. The Tribunal will then advise parties pursuing Privilege of the Faith cases what documents we require and guide them through the process.


There is a recent long thread about dating while waiting for a declaration of nullity. See


I saw that post on dating during the annullment process, but was wondering if the situation was different for a natural vs. sacramental marriage, mainly because a natural marriage can be dissolved and a sacramental marriage cannot.


Are you sure about that? Because it’s not my understanding.


From what I understand, natural marriages can be dissolved, only death dissolves a sacramental marriage.


You might want to rephrase your question slightly and post in the Liturgy and Sacraments thread. One of our canon lawyers might be able to tell you whether the Petrine Privilege only applies if a new marriage is eminent or if it applies merely in anticipation of a future marriage.

It’s my understanding that Petrine Privileges are seldom granted and that they take a long time.

In your case you might want to investigate whether or not you have some other basis for being granted a ruling of nullity. It sounds like your husband was never open to the possibility of children.

puts on Puzzleannie hat

Contact your pastor/priest/deacon/tribunal rep Someone that will be much more helpful than us.


This looks to be a valid marriage.You married according to Church guidelines. Contact the marriage tribunal or your Parish priest ASAP. You should not be dating until you get a ruling that the marriage was null. There was no reason to wait until you had met a new man to marry in order to seek the ruling. It should have been done as soon as possible after the divorce so that the witnesses could be asked for thier statements. Hopefully this won’t be so difficult now. It is possible that the unwillingness to have children could be grounds. All avenues need to be explored. I doubt that the Petrine Privilige will be suggested by a Canon Lawyer but I am not an expert.


I posted this in the other thread:

[quote=me]Interestingly enough, the Pauline Privilege bears on the question at hand. For a person to be granted the Pauline Privilege, there are several questions that must be investigated by the diocesan tribunal. Some of these questions relate to the failed marriage, for example, was the person at fault in the breakup, and whether the ex-spouse would be willing to resume the marriage. Other questions relate to whether the new desired marriage is somehow in favor of the faith. One way this could happen if the fiance/fiancee is a Catholic in good standing.

In any event, it is a requirement of the process to apply for the Pauline Privilege that the person be engaged to another. And it is hard to see how this could ever happen if the person did not date.

I also made another post that discussed this issue (see here), but it is more from a theoretical perspective of why someone using the Pauline privilege needs to date.

P.S. The issues are largely the same for the Petrine privilege.


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