Dissolving a marriage

You guys are great at answering questions and being supportive. I asked the question to the Apoligist but didn’t get an answer. I know someone here will know. My BF is Catholic and was married in a civil ceremony. They never were blessed by the church. Well, she divorced him a little over 2 years ago. He and I will get married one day. What does he need to do to dissolve his marriage in the Church’s eyes? Isn’t it something simpler than an annullment since he wasn’t married in the Church?

He needs to go see a priest. If you have conveyed the facts accurately, his marriage is invalid due to a lack of form defect.

The priest will guide him through the paperwork process for the Church. This process is less complex than a full tribunal investigation.

But, it all starts with the visit to the priest.

That marriage can be declared null, not dissolved.

Very important distinction - NO marriage can ever be dissolved. It may only be declared null from its onset.



Thanks ya’ll.

go to the liturgy and sacraments forum and search under annulment, for good links

a valid marriage cannot be dissolved by divorce or any other action. every marriage situation is different, the person must go to their pastor, lay out all the relevant information, and take his guidance on initiating the investigation into the circumstances of any prior marriage. A Catholic who marries without complying with the laws of the Church will likely have the marriage declared invalid due to lack of form, without a full annulment investigation. The time to take care of this is before the divorced person begins dating or gets engaged again.

Unconsummated marriages may, by the pope and for good reasons. They are valid and sacramental by the code of canon law but they can still be dissolved. Non-sacramental ones may be dissolved by pauline or petrine privilege. Just for clarity. :wink:

there is no power on earth with authority to dissolve a valid marriage. What he can do is petition the Church for an investigation and judgement as to whether or not the marriage was valid. If a Catholic was not married according to the laws of the Church, the marriage will probably be declared invalid due to lack of form, a paperwork issue less complex than a full annulment investigation. The first step is an interview with the priest, and any other step is really a waste of time, because his situation is unique. In the meantime it would be inaccurate to refer to this person as a boyfriend or fiance since he is not free to date or become romantically involved or engaged to anyone until the status of his first marriage is resolved. This question belongs on the sacraments forum and a search on the topic of annulment will yield links to great resources for more info.

As chevalier points out, a ratified and valid but unconsummated marriage is dissoluble.

A valid natural marriage between unbaptized parties is also dissoluble if one of them accepts the faith and the other is unwilling to remain.

However neither of these is the case described by the OP


Marriages can on rare occasions be dissolved. A non-sacramental marriage, still valid but between two unbaptized persons can be dissolved by Church authority. Also a marriage between two baptized persons can be dissolved if it hasn’t yet been consummated (but I believe you have to somehow prove it hasn’t been consummated to convince them). The only kind of marriage that cannot be dissolved is one between two baptized persons that has been consummated.

I would need to see the canon law citations for these statements.

Since I’m around and the citations would be the same anyway: here.

Glad you asked, puzzleannie, because I was curious as well. Very interesting!

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