Is civil marriage valid?


If one of the parts is Catholic, is a civil marriage valid, without marriage in church?


Sacramentally, no, unless dispensation has been granted by the bishop, both to marry a non-Catholic and to marry outside of the Church.


If both persons are baptized then a marriage is also sacramental. You cannot have one without the other. Once a marriage bond exists, it is also sacramental. So, my question stands.


Catholics are bound by Canon Law to marry in the Church or receive dispensation to marry somewhere else. If a Catholic marries civilly without a dispensation the marriage is not valid.

If you or someone you know are in an invalid marriage speak to your pastor about convalidating the marriage.


It depends on whether the Catholic has obtained a dispensation to be married outside the Catholic form. No dispensation means no valid marriage. If there is a dispensation then it is a valid marriage.


That is not always true. Extra-ecclesial marriages between baptized persons are automatically sacramentally valid if and only if neither of the persons marrying is Catholic. If either one is Catholic then additional canonical requirements must be met before a marriage can be considered sacramentally valid. These include the liturgical celebration/witnessing of the marriage by a cleric (unless dispensed). If one of the partners is non-Catholic, a dispensation for disparity of cult is also required.


It is always true. Two baptized are always sacramentally married, if it’s not sacramental, there is no marriage.
But in regards to civil marriage there is something else to consider. I know that form is one of the three conditions for a marriage to be valid, but still.
And, btw, to marry a non-Catholic you need permission, not dispensation. Disparity of cult only applies with an unbaptized person, with a non-Chirstian, and that marriage is not sacramental.
If anyone could bring arguments from Cannon Law, would be great.


Again, this is not true, if the requirement for sacramental form is not satisfied.

There are natural marriages which are non-sacramental (not applicable in this case) and there are civil marriages which may or may not be sacramental. A couple can be civilly married without being sacramentally married. Obviously you know this, which is why you asked whether a civil marriage in such a case is valid. If you are convinced that all marriages are sacramentally valid between baptized persons why did you ask this question in the first place?

OK, yes, you are right that marrying a baptized non-Catholic does not require dispensation. Nevertheless the requirement of observation of canonical form still binds unless dispensed, and it binds whether both or only one of the parties is Catholic. See canon 1108 and the related canons which it cites.


Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.

§2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.

A vinculum naturale (natural bond) is only between two unbaptized, or when one of the partners is unbaptized. Without baptism there can be no sacrament.
I didn’t ask this because I didn’t know what you stated (quote in bold). If the marriage is valid, then it’s a sacrament also, as stated by Cannon Law.


If one party is Catholic, the Church requires the Catholic to follow Church law on marriage.

For a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic validly, the Catholic must meet with his/her pastor and the couple must complete all premarital preparation and paperwork.

If the Catholic desires to marry a non-Catholic in a civil ceremony or in the non-Catholic’s place of worship, the Catholic must receive a **dispensation from the Catholic form **of marriage. They receive this by completing the appropriate paperwork with their pastor during premarital preparation. The pastor then obtains the proper dispensation from the bishop.

If a Catholic marries without doing these things, then they have entered into an invalid marriage. The Catholic should see their pastor at once to discuss their situation.


Or Radical Sanation.


There are different situations. Assuming that “in church” means canonical form, then the situations with regard to canonical form are:

*]the civil marriage occurs before the one Catholic becomes Catholic
*]the civil marriage occurs while Catholic, where no priest is available for a month
*]the civil marriage occurs while Catholic with a prior dispensation from canonical form
*]the civil marriage occurs after a Catholic has formally defected, and this has been accepted by the bishop (this only applies between 1983 and 2010.)
The 1983 canon law has provisions for each of the above.

Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston states:“If there has been a dispensation from canonical form, ordinarily the marriage ceremony is celebrated in a non-Catholic church or oratory. In some exceptional circumstances (e.g. certain Catholic-Jewish marriages), it may be necessary that the dispensation be granted so that a civil ceremony may occur. A public form that is civilly recognized for the celebration of marriage is required.”


Thank you all for clarification! God bless! :thumbsup:


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