Does a catholic convert need an annulment to remarry in a catholic church?

Hello, I’m new to the forum. I was wondering if I needed an annulment to marry in a catholic ceremony? I was previously married in a civil ceremony and I converted to catholicism after the divorce of this marriage.I was not baptized at the time of the marriage. I was fully initiated into the catholic religion about 2 years ago. My previous husband was a non-catholic. He was a non-practicing russian orthodox and I’m not sure if he was baptized. I have no contact with him, so I have no way of finding out. Thank you for your help.

If he is Orthodox, it is almost guaranteed that he was baptized as an infant. You’ve since been baptized. That makes your marriage sacramental. That means you need to go through the full annulment procedure.

Each case has its unique aspects which require too much personal detail to be a proper subject for posting.

You need to get all the data you have together and consult with a local priest or deacon who is familiar with the Tribunal requirements. He can help you get it into proper form to present it to the Tribunal, which is the only authoritative voice on this.

Since you were married in a civil ceremony, and since you were not baptized at the time, and since no one can receive any sacraments without being baptized, you did not have a sacramental marriage. SO…you can not receive an annulment. BUT…check with your priest, you many have to receive an “absence of form” which certifies that you were not married in or had your marriage blessed in any church.

A good friend of mine that is a practicing Catholic did this. She had a civil marriage and divorce. Before being married in the Church, she had to do this. No biggie, just paperwork and a couple of interviews.

Mary -

This is incorrect on a number of points.

When the original poster was married, neither she nor her husband were bound to the Catholic form. So she is not eligible for an annulment based on lack of form.

Since she and her husband were not bound to Catholic canon law concerning marriage, their civil marriage is presumed valid. Since she was not baptized, she could have received a divorce through Pauline or Petrine privilege. She has since been baptized, though, making her presumed valid marriage presumably sacramental.

As Joe said, the only way to determine if it was valid is to place all of the facts before a tribunal and seek their declaration. She should not be dating in the mean time as we presume her marriage was valid unless it is shown otherwise, making her a married woman with a seperation from her estranged husband.

Contact your parish or diocese and they will put you in touch with the people who handle these every day and you can get the process started.

Yeah I agree with the others - this is a TOTALLY case by case scenario. I have a friend in a similar situation now. She is not baptised and neither was her husband when they married. She is now civilly divorced and wishes to marry a Catholic in the church.

The Bishop met with her ( as the priests were not sure how to proceed believe it or not ) and an annulement is in fact required because the church recognizes all marriages until and unless they are proven invalid.

Do speak with a priest about this at the church you desire to marry at so you can get properly informed on what steps you need to take in preparation for your possible marriage.


no way to answer on this forum, there are too many variables, please see your priest who should cover all aspects of your marriage situation at the initial interview when you enquire about becoming Catholic, and who should get an answer for you in good order.

Canon 1066 establishes the norm for anyone who wishes to marry in the Catholic Church, whether Catholic nor not, whether a cradle Catholic or a convert, whether baptized or not, whether married before or not. It says, “Before marriage is celebrated, it must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration.”

Consequently each and every prior marriage that either party has celebrated, whether civil or religious, whether in the Catholic Church or not, must be examined to establish the freedom of the person to marry in the Catholic Church.

**This is true because a valid marriage sets up an impediment of divine law that prevents any subsequent marriage if that person from being valid, except in the case of a pauline privilege or a privilege of the faith or a dispensation from a non consumated marriage. But those processes as well as any process to determine the invalidity of marriage always require some examination based in Church law and the exercise of Church authority. **

Since this will require technical expertise and the exercise of authority in the Church, this matter is always best brought to the parish priest. Most have received sufficient training in Church law to know when they must rely on or seek guidance from the diocesan bishop. This is normally provided by the staff of his tribunal. But some cases will throw the best trained priests a curve since their training is to be pastors and not specialists in canon law.

That is the recommendation I make to the poster in the concrete circumstances.

I add the following only in response to the points discussed by Melford and Maritsa to illustrate just how technical things can become. I certainly applaud Maritsa and others who encourage the poster to speak with the parish priest though.

From a conceptual point of view, that Russian Orthodox are bound by their own Church to marry according to a sacred form in which an Orthodox priest confers sacred blessing on the couple. The Catholic Church accepts this into its own matrimonial law. Therefore, it is possible for a Catholic Church to declare the invalidity due to lack of sacred form in such a marriage between an Orthodox and a non Catholic. This will, of course, depend on more precise details of fact that require investigation.

But again, I say this only to highlight the importance of bringing such a circumstance to the parish priest, and he can be in touch with his diocesan tribunal.

Actually, no one has hit on the most important fact… it was a civil ceremony to an Orthodox believer.

It’s going to be a lack of form case. As Catholics, we recognize that the Orthodox Churches also have a canonical form and if they are not married according to canonical form, then there is no marriage.

So, you need to take your marriage license, your divorce decree and a copy of his Chrismation record from his Orthodox parish and take them to your parish priest. Tell him you attempted marriage with an Orthodox man outside of canonical form and you know that you need to have it declared null by lack of form. He might have to contact the local Tribunal about it, but it’s pretty common practice and knowledge among canon lawyers.

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