Divorce and Remarriage


Let me start by saying I have reached out to our Diocese but I’m also posting here because I’m trying to get some feedback.

I’m trying to understand exactly where my husband and I stand with the Church and remarriage… We are currently legally divorced, but want to remarry each other.

We were legally (& secretly) married by a Justice of the Peace in Feb 1994.

In Oct 1994, we were publicly married in a non-denominational Church before family and friends. At that time, we were not Catholic.

In 2001, we converted to Catholicism and underwent RCIA, Baptism, and Communion. However, we never had our marriage convalidated.

In Sept 2011, we sadly divorced. Our divorce actually became final a mere 2 months after initial filing.

A year later, we reconciled. We have been back together (living together) since Nov 2012. We have never been married to anyone else but each other.

Now we want to get legally married again - to each other. Because my Catholic faith is important to me, I want this ceremony to happen in the Church. But I’m terrified they will say ‘No!’ because we were legally divorced.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Will the Church require an annulment? Will they say our original marriage to each other was never valid anyway because it wasn’t convalidated? Or will they simply say we are already considered ‘married’ because the Church doesn’t recognize divorce?

Terrified and Confused…


I can’t imagine why you’d need an annulment or anything but perhaps at most a con validation.

Talk to your priest, but don’t fret. The church doesn’t recognize civil divorce in any way shape or form. They consider you validly married from your Protestant ceremony, and I think that you don’t even need a con validation but I’m not sure on that. Like I said this is nothing to worry about, just talk to your priest and it will be straightened out.


If neither of you were baptized at the time of your marriage, then you had a natural marriage that became sacramental when you were baptized and joined the Church. So, in God’s eyes you are still married. Getting married again legally would be a good step to take.


You were validly married when you married by JOP. As non-Catholics you had no obligation to marry in any particular form. I don’t know what you mean by “secretly” as even JOP requires witnesses, even if it’s just someone who happens to be on hand at the courthouse. If there was anything defective in that marriage ceremony, doing it again in public before family and friends surely remedied that.

Convalidation is for people who are not validly married. You were validly married. Convalidation was not possible and not needed.

Congratulations on reconciling.

Perhaps. Priests in the US are officials of the state. However they are also officials of the Church. Since your marriage is already a valid marriage, I’m not 100% certain whether the priest can/would “remarry” you for civil purposes. It would not be for Church purposes, you are already married. This is a question for the canon lawyer at the diocese.

The Church is not going to refuse you marriage because of the divorce. If anything, it should refuse because you are already married!!!

No. You are legally remarrying someone you are already married to.

No. Your original marriage most certainly was and STILL IS valid. If anyone tells you otherwise, you need to talk to the canon lawyer in your diocese.

Yes, this is accurate. You are already married. You certainly can remarry civilly

Don’t be. You are going to be fine.


1ke’s advice, as usual, is spot-on. You were not Catholic when you first married, so your marriage is valid already. Consequently, the Church cannot give you a marriage ceremony. In such a case, it is not sinful at all for a couple to legally remarry outside the Church - you are only doing this to have your marriage legally recognized, while spiritually it has existed since you were first married.

THAT SAID, it is certainly possible for you to have a renewal of your vows in the Church. This is a commonly recommended option for couples in your situation and is a beautiful way to renew your commitment to each other. You only need to understand that it is simply a renewal, not a convalidation.


The Church would presume you were validly married. You were not Catholic so no need for a Catholic wedding. Discuss with your Pastor. He can help determine what to do (if you understood marriage and had the right intention etc at the time) (and I assume you were not married prior).

He can guide you in what you need to do. If your married already - no con-validation needed - a valid marriage is a valid marriage. As to the State he can guide you as well.


The Catholic Church recognizes a natural marriage. The Church does not recognize your divorce in the eyes of God. Don’t be afraid, talk to your priest. He may suggest pre-marriage classes and a renewal of your vows to seal the matter.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.