dating during divorce (if the marriage is invalid anyway)


This will probably sound kind of bad…but if a person’s marriage is found to be invalid and that person dates while they are going through a divorce (from a marriage that was performed at a courthouse) are they considered to be committing adultery??

It’s probably not the nicest thing to be doing if you are still married in the eyes of the law, but if you are not married in the eyes of the church are you really committing a sin if you are physically separated from a spouse you are not validly married to in the catholic church?


Yes, it would immoral and gravely sinful to do so.

First off an Annulment cannot even be started until after the civil divorce is final.


A marriage is not null until the Church declares it so. A civil divorce is a prerequisite for a Tribunal review of the marriage.

Dating would be unwise until one is free to marry and it could hurt the other party if the prior bond is found valid.


the investigation into the validity of the marriage by the Catholic Church tribunal will not begin until after the divorce is final, so as not to jeopardize and chance of reconciliation. So you cannot say for certain the marriage is invalid. It may be valid due to lack of form because the Catholic party married without obeying Church laws on marriage, but that process also requires some paperwork, investigation and procedure. Until that is done, no dating, no romance.


The more accurate thing to say is that while the marriage has been null from the beginning, an individual does not have the moral certainty to act on that fact until the Church rules on the matter (the Church is not, after all, rendering the marriage null).

I know the metaphor is somewhat crude, but let’s say I have a highly contagious and deadly disease. Even if my noticeable symptoms went away, it would be irresponsible for me to start interacting with the general public again until a doctor had determined that I was no longer contagious - perhaps despite all appearances I could still be sick, so I need an informed opinion from someone far more competent to judge the matter.

In a similar way, I might have very strong feelings about my previous marriage being null, but I don’t have all the specialized knowledge or diagnostic tools to make a final judgment (I’m biased, after all), so I need the Church to clear me so I don’t pull someone else into sin. Remember, simply dating a married person is still considered an affair.


It’s called “giving scandal”… not everyone may be aware of the validity (or lack of) of the marriage in the eyes of the Catholic church, but they will certainly know that a couple who is not civilly divorced is still legally married.


I agree with all the above comments - and would also add, why in the world would someone want to start dating so soon anyway? :shrug:

If someone has only just left one relationship, I say give it a rest for a bit before jumping into another one. And dating means willing to go there, so just don’t. Nothing wrong with being single for awhile to regroup and get a hold on life before meeting someone new.



I am not sure that I understand completely what is being said here. Is the OP is using “dating” and “adultery” interchangeably - when I never thought of them as interchangeable. Are they?:confused:

If I am going through a divorce and I am “committing adultery” - that doesn’t mean that I am going out for a dinner with someone. For actions to be called “adultery” they have to be sexual - isn’t that correct? So for that matter, the “going through a divorce” isn’t even the issue in my eyes. The sexual activity is the issue - and even if the church grants the marriage null, premarital sex is still wrong. :tsktsk:

If the OP is going through a divorce and has found themselves in a relationship/friendship with someone (not sexual) I don’t see that as adultery nor do I think that necessarily deems the relationship wrong. I think candor and honesty will need to be practiced. We all need friendships, but it would be wrong to cross the line between friendship and something more. Be honest and express that you can not be more than friends until your previous marriage is reviewed by the church - and if that is not received well than you can always explain that you will need some space until the church’s decision is in. If I found someone who I wanted to be more than just a friend, I would want to know that they would respect a wish like that.:thumbsup:

Its not as simple as saying that having a friend will keep the previous marriage from being reconciled - many, many marriages are beyond reconcillation before a separation even starts. And unfortunately, many reconciliations can not start until one spouse realizes that the other can and will move on with their lives. Again - not in a sexual way.

Just my thoughts



It can be emotional adultery....there is such a thing. One can also commit adultery just by fantasizing. And going out on a date is an occasion of sin.


We can quibble over terms (and, yes, adultery is the term for the illicit sexual intercourse between a married person and someone not his/her spouse), but the bottom line is that any romantic relationship with someone other than one’s spouse is immoral, even if it is not sexual. Sure you can have friends of the opposite sex, but there are lines that can be easily blurred so if things start to tend toward romance a “defining the relationship” talk is seriously required. The idea is not “we can be a couple just so long as you know that I may not be able to remarry” or even “we can explore a romantic relationship but can’t start actually going on dates yet.” Romance is completely off the table. And, for the sake of avoiding near occasions of sin, a cooling off period would probably be prudent.


A man is separated from their wife, eventually gets a civil divorce and thereafter an annulment but this process takes say 10 years. During that time the man has been dating and has been in a romantic but not sexual relationship with other women. He sees nothing wrong with this because his logic is that once the annulment is given it is backdated so to speak to the time of the marriage and so the sin of being dating and romantically involved with other women over these 10 years is also automatically taken away due to the annulment.
Is this right?


No, the marriage tribunal (and really, by extension, all parties involved) is bound to presume in favor of the bond. Which means to say that going into an investigation of nullity the marriage is considered valid until proven otherwise. So if morally you have to presume you are married, then dating this time would be done under the assumption that you are still married. Interior dispositions could certainly mitigate guilt (many people, after all, don’t know they are bound to presume they are still married and think if they know of an invalidating circumstance they are free to act on this knowledge), but that doesn’t change the objective immorality of the actions.


It can be emotional adultery…there is such a thing. One can also commit adultery just by fantasizing. And going out on a date is an occasion of sin.

I have never heard of “emotional adultery” - please explain what this is. I have heard of an “emotional affair”, and I would love to hear an explanation of that as well. Because what I understand of “emotional affairs” they are often a problem because 1 spouse can not get the spiritual/emotional support that they need from the other spouse. There is a problem because there is a spouse who is not there for the other spouse. Buteven if the 1 spouse finds a friend to discuss these things with to get the support that they need - that doesn’t mean the relationship is reciprocal. There may not even be a mutual support relationship there - it may all just be one way.

I agree - yes, immoral thoughts can be a mortal sin. But you can’t read into what someone else is thinking. If I think about how to rob a bank does that mean I am going to rob a bank - no it doesn’t (this isn’t the point anyway because you and I know that there are waaay too many married people who are guilty of this anyway - marriage doesn’t eliminate fantasies) Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t fortitude one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Are we supposed to cower away from every possible chance of sinning in our lives - well, we just as well stay asleep all of our lives. I think we are supposed to pray for the stregnth to be good? I understand staying away from occasions of sins - but there needs to be a balance made. If there is a single girl dating a single boy - is it an occasion of sin for them to go out to dinner? No. Is it an occasion of sin for them to be alone in the girls bedroom - yes. I can only speak for myself, but I am not a dog who can’t control myself around the opposite sex.

The idea is not “we can be a couple just so long as you know that I may not be able to remarry” or even “we can explore a romantic relationship but can’t start actually going on dates yet.”

This would never be considered anyway - you can’t say that you are friends with someone and then call yourselves a “couple”. I never said to “explore a romantic relationship” either. There can be a balance and if there can’t be a balance that is when you need to ask for space until the church’s response is back on your marriage.



As far as I know, civil marriages are not reconized by the Church.

That being said however, I would strongly advise you to speak with your priest about it.

You’ll get a multitude of opinions in this forum and not all of them are correct. At best you’ll only end up confused, so again, speak with your priest and follow his advice.

God Bless


dating in our culture unfortunately has taken on a connotation of everything from going to the movies together, to frequenting bars with intent to shack up with the first person you see, so it has an elastic meaning.

No one who is not free to marry can date in any case, even if by dating you mean the most casual end of the spectrum, a man and women enjoying a social occassion together, but in a context exclusive of others, and in the context of at least beginning to establish an exclusive relationship. No you cannot date until your first marriage is annulled.

As we repeat roughly every 15 minutes here, every marriage situation is unique and OP should see his priest without delay for guidance in his individual situation. This forum is for discussion of general topics and is utterly useless when it comes to giving advice in individual situations, in which we are neither competent nor authorized to comment.


If your marriage has already been recongnized as null in the eyes of the Church, at least wait until the divorce is final. Then date all you want!

I heard a line somewhere… “Rico and I are getting married!” “You can’t get married! The ink on your divorce isn’t even dry yet!” (it’s supposed to be funny)


You could just as well say that physical affairs start because one spouse does not have his/her physical needs meet and seeks support from another person. It’s still wrong to seek the physical benefits of marriage with someone else just as its wrong to seek the emotional benefits of marriage with another.

If one entertains fantasies about robbing a bank, that would be wrong. Of course marriage does not eliminate fantasies, but that doesn’t mean that it is okay to fantasize about another. Jesus said that men who even look at a woman with lust have committed adultary in their hearts.

I am married and I have friends who are men. I have one very close male friend who was my confirmation sponsor when I converted. Sometimes we go out to dinner, most of the time my husband comes as well. I share information about my life with him, and he gives good advice and is very supportive. However, there are certain personal things and certain things about my relationship with my husband that I would never share with him. They are for my husband alone. It has nothing to do with controlling myself and everything to do with honoring and maintaining the close bond that I have with my husband.


every social encounter with a person of the opposite sex is not a date. OP said dating, and I think we have a pretty good idea what that means, even if of course no more intimate level of relationship is contemplated.


completely wrong from start to finish
annulments typically take 6-18 months except in the most complex situations.

during that time however long it takes the person is still considered married so he cannot date in exclusive relationshps, he cannot become romantically involved with anyone and he certainly cannot carry on a sexual relationship whether casual or committed with anyone. The word you are looking for is adultery. Just because the 1st marriage is eventually declared null does not affect any activity of his in the meantime, and no it does not confer retroactive absolution for any sins he does in the interim.


your scenario is not possible. The tribunal will not even begin the investigation until the civil divorce is final.

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