Divorce and remarriage?

I am a current divorcee married to a lapsed Catholic. I am just learning what the Catholic church says about marriage being a lifelong covenant and not allowing divorce. My first husband was a serial adulterer, an addict, and abusive. He basically left me with 2 babies. We divorced and then later tried to reconcile and he left me again. Less than 1 year after leaving me he remarried.
I found my current husband after being alone for 2 years. This is my second marriage and his first (although he had a child out of wedlock).
So now we are a blended family. We married in a Christian ceremony.
I would like to become Catholic. Insights please?

Before you can receive the sacraments, you will have to file paperwork and have your first marriage annuled. Catholic Annulments are based on the couple’s state of mind at the time of the wedding and not the conduct of either party during the marriage. You really need to make an appointment with a wise and holy priest to discuss your situation. He can get you started with the paperwork (there is a lot of it!) and get you signed up for the next RCIA class, probably to meet in the Fall. There will be bumps and roadblocks ahead, but don’t give up; the Catholic Church is the one, true Church started by Jesus himself and well worth the wait!

You will probably need to get your first marriage annulled and your current marriage convalidated before you can join the Church. You should talk to your priest about specifics of how to go about this in your diocese. I’m glad you are finding your way home to the Church. I have a friend who was in the same situation as you are. Her husband was the nominal Catholic but she came to love the Church and wanted to join. She was worried about the annullment proccess but she told me that it was a really healing process in her situation and made her current marriage stronger. Since then, her marriage has been convalidated and even her husband and daughter are becoming more active in the parish!

Welcome home! I hope you find peace and joy and welcoming arms in the Catholic Church.

Because the Church views marriage as permanent and because she recognizes the marriages of non-Catholics as valid, she assumes that your prior marriage is still valid. If you believe it was not valid because of an impediment at the time of the wedding or a defect of consent (for example, your ex-husband did not intend to keep his vows, did not intend to be faithful to you, etc) you can petition the Tribunal Court for a declaration of nullity. The court will collect evidence (statements from you and witnesses) and either declare your prior marriage valid or invalid. That is, they will determine whether your marriage was valid or whether it was invalid from the beginning.

If it is declared invalid, you would need to have your marriage convalidated by the Church. You would exchange wedding vows with your current husband in the presence of a priest or deacon and two witnesses.

A good and holy priest can walk you through this and offer counsel and advice. It is my understanding that usually couples in irregular marriage situations are not permitted to enter the Catholic Church until the situation is rectified. This is because it is wrong to engage in marital relations with someone with whom you are not validly married, and a person cannot enter into the Church with the intention to commit serious sin.

Nevertheless, RCIA might be useful to help you learn more about the Church and her teachings. And I hope you find the annulment process healing and it is resolved in a way that brings peace.

God bless.

A lot of things are looked at during an annulment. A lot of paperwork not just from me, but from others as well. Several people were sent the papers as well. The annulment went through. I’m not sure about state of mind at the time of the ceremony, but my ex evidently didn’t take the vows seriously. He was abusive and had several affairs. It was a nasty divorce. All I can say is, get the paperwork started. You will never know what the tribunal will say until you do.

If you can’t get an annulment don’t be discourage!! Stay close to the Church, go to mass every sunday, pray a lot and try to do the better you can. God love you and know your intentions.

What I am understanding from the OP is that she currently is not catholic and she wants to join the catholic faith, is that correct? Did she actually marry in the catholic faith the first time? Because if she wasnt catholic there is a good chance she didn’t get married in the church. If her first marriage was only a civil marriage in the eyes of the church she has never been married.

My understanding is the OP is not Catholic, was divorced from a civil marriage, and remarried a lapsed Catholic. She now wishes to be Catholic.

The Church does in fact recognize civil marriages between non-Catholics. Such marriages between non-Catholics are presumed to be valid. Only Catholics are bound to marry in the Church. Moreover, if the OP and her previous husband were both baptized, the Church recognizes that marriage as both valid and sacramental, same as a marriage between two Catholics in the Church.

Yes, I was married to my first husband through the Seventh-Day Adventist church. I had both a civil and a church wedding. We are both baptized Christians. I was lead to believe by the Seventh-Day Adventist church that I was allowed to get a divorce because they believe that the only reason you can divorce is adultery. I was even encouraged by the pastor to get a divorce (to get child support) and then I could always “marry him again if things worked out”. I was encouraged to find someone new and make a new life (especially because I had 2 babies).
My new husband was Catholic as a child but didn’t attend the church for many, many years. We married both in a civil service and had a ceremony with a Seventh-Day Adventist minister because I was firm in the Adventist faith at the time.
My worry is that I had no idea how complicated this whole process was. I don’t even know where to begin. Is my current marriage invalid? I know the belief of the Catholic church is that the first marriage is the binding one, but my first husband married again before I did. I am a bit confused.

You begin by making an appointment with the pastor of your local Catholic Church. You meet with him, lay out all the facts and follow his direction. He will walk you through it step by step.

Currently, yes. Both because of the prior bond of marriage and because as a Catholic your husband was required to marry in Catholic form.

Your first husband’s remarriage is not really relevant.

Please make an appointment with a local pastor to start working through the process.

Thank you.
I will look into it. I have only recently started looking into the Catholic faith (about 1.5 months) and I’m new to how things are done and which people do what. I have only been to mass 3 times and I don’t know the Priest yet but I will call the office and find out.

Can you explain that to me more deeply, I am not sure if I am understanding: a legal marriage between two non Catholics is recognized in the church as a sacramental marriage? That sounds to me like a very general rule that could get really messy, wouldn’t it be more.like depending on specific circumstances because like that sounds like the church has to recognize every civil marriage which I don’t think the church is going to do.

Yes. If both parties are baptized it is a sacramental marriage. If one or both parties are not baptized then it is a valid natural marriage. (This assumes that there aren’t impediments like a prior marriage.)

I am just curious because if that is like that then it can get really real complicated in certain situations, how the church deals with that as pretty much they wouldn’t have jurisdiction over it?

Exactly! One of the hardest things for me in working with RCIA is working with people who have prior marriages and are now remarried. They’re often surprised that the Church recognizes their first marriage and it’s now causing a problem.

The marriage would have to comply with the church or something like that because imagine a civil or religious marriage that doesn’t comply with the church? Wouldn’t it have to be validated in some way? Also what happens if they divorce legally?

I’m not sure what you mean by “comply with the church.” If they were not Catholic they were not bound by Catholic marriage laws. If they divorce it’s the same as if Catholics divorced – they are bound by their first marriage and not free to remarry as long as their spouse is living.

I am also.confused because a friend who is marrying a Christian non catholic was told by the priest that her future husband had to be baptised otherwise the church won’t recognize the marriage so now you got me all confused :confused:

Their marriage won’t be SACRAMENTAL. Both parties must be baptized for it to be a sacrament. But it would be VALID as long as the Catholic party is following Catholic marriage laws.

also there are some countries where by law religious and civil marriages have to be fully separated so how would it work in those cases?

They get married civilly and then get married in church.

The Church recognizes two types of valid marriages.

Sacramental marriages occur between a baptized man and woman. If one of the parties is Catholic, they are required to be married according to the form of the Church (i.e., in front of a priest or deacon), unless they are dispensed from this requirment by their bishop. If both parties are non-Catholic baptized Christians, then as soon as they exchange wedding vows, the Church presumes it be be both valid and sacramental marriage. So if two Baptists get married in a Baptist church, it is a valid and sacramental marriage. If a Lutheran man and a Methodist woman exchange vows in front of a justice of peace down at city hall, it is still a valid and sacramental marriage. This is because in marriage, unlike in other sacraments, the ministers of the sacrament are the couple themselves. Baptized individuals are able to bring about this sarcrament, even if they are not Catholic.

If one of the parties is not baptized, the Church presumes the marriage to be “good and natural.” It is still completely valid, but it is not sacramental. God is the author of marriage and all valid marriages share certain essential properties (for example, sexual complementarity, lifelong permanance, intention for the good of the spouses, etc) . But two non-baptized individuals do indeed validly marry when they marry at city hall or on the beach or in a temple or synagogue or anywhere else. If both parties at some later date become Christian, their marriage becomes sacramental the moment that both parties are baptized.

The Church does not recognize as valid civil marriages where one party was Catholic at the time of the wedding (because Catholics are required to marry according to the form of the Church), or civil “marriages” that occur between members of the same sex, because such a union is not what marriage is.

By comply with the church I mean for example, Muslims under Muslim law a man can have three wives and is perfectly legal under their religion and laws, I find it difficult that the church is going to recognize polygamy but those are the situations that I am referring to.

And yes I can totally see several problems deriving from that, when someone has been civilly married and divorced in the church. I guess they would have to resolve it with their pastor right?

With regard to the separation of marriage in other countries, I am asking that because in Argentina that is pretty much the argument under which the church can’t be forced to recognize gay marriage because is legal and legal and religious marriage are by law separated. It just seems worrisome if the church finds legal marriage valid then how can you defend against gay marriage? I can see an argument that under natural law is stop not valid but knowing the USA won’t be surprised if someone would come up with that story.

God is the author of marriage, and the Church recognizes marriages as valid when they are in accord with God’s design for marriage. A marriage is a permanent commitment between a man and a woman ordered toward the procreation of children and the good of the spouses. The Church does not recognize same-sex unions or polygamous relationships as marriage, even when civil authorities do. These aren’t just invalid marriages. They aren’t marriages at all, despite what people may call them.

ok this is quite a good explanation, thanks for it

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