Is it a sin to be civilly divorced?

It has been bothering me for a while- a year. My husband divorced me and moved onto another woman, but my concern is that I am now in motal sin because of that. IS it a sin to be divorced even if I remain celibate and do not date?

No, it is not a sin. You did not choose this, and you are (I assume) still liveing chastely. It would only be a sin if you got into another relationship with out the benefit of an annulment.

This link may help you:

This question is too complex for a simple yes or no answer. being divorced, per se, is not a sin. But the circumstances under your control that led to the divorce may or may not have been sinful.

On the one hand, it is possible for a divorced person to be an innocent victim, whom, if he or she does all that is possible to reconcile with his or her spouse, or remains chaste and does not attempt another marriage without a declaration of nulity, in this case is not guilty of any sin related to the divorce whatsoever.

On the other hand, if a divorced person is also responsible or partially responsible for the breakup of the marriage by reasons of his or her own sinful actions or omissions, then that person is guilty of those sins, and possibly for the divorce as well, with the gravity of that guilt depending on those particular circumstances.

If you are morally certain that you did all you could have and should have done to save your marriage, then you are guilty of no sin relating to your divorce at all. If you know you failed to do so in some ways, then you may share in some venial guilt regarding your divorce. But if by your own free choices and actions you damaged your marriage or failed to build it up when you should have, then it is possible that you may be seriously or mortally guilty.

I won’t ask you for details to try to evaluate your innocence or guilt myself because that isn’t my business, but I would suggest you have a talk with your priest about this if you are unsure.

Thanks for all the imput. I think I know the answer.
To Explain a little my X has been unfaithful for years. I forgave him 2 times, then he became abusive with myself and our oldest child. He is in the military and was called to active duty and again was unfaithful and upon return divorced me and moved in with that girlfriend. I just have taken step to protect myself and my children and grow closer to god.

Praying for you and your children. This has got to be a difficult time for you.:signofcross:

Dear jenyel, welcome!

It is NOT a sin to have a civil divorce. The Church recognizes the need for it, particularly in circumstances such as you describe. It is also not a sin for you to get a darn good lawyer and protect the rights of your children.

But for your own peace of mind, please go talk to a priest you trust without delay. You don’t need to go into great detail. Most of the people here are just people, not experts. A good priest can point you in the right direction, and help you find the assistnace you’re going to need in the next months.

No, although it should be a sin to be acrimoniously divorced.


Good advice. :thumbsup:


I think you are fine. However, if you are worried, then discuss it with a priest. My ex-wife divorced me because I converted to the Catholic Church, I can understand your feeling.

Here is what the Archdiocese of Chicago has to say about divorce.

Notice that it says you cannot be denied Holy Communion. The restriction comes only if you remarry without an annulment.

I do not believe you have sinned. You certainly have been sinned against.

I do not know how much time has passed, but I would ask you to consider applying for an annulment. Not just because you may want to date and or marry in the future but because the annulment process can be very healing. There is no hurry, but do not delay either.

Here are some other resources from the Chicago Archdiocese website.

May God grant you peace.

My ex-husband had an affair and married her after our divorce. I was quite upset that I wasn’t able to get an annulment based on the fact he cheated, however, because I was pregnant and got married to him, I was granted an annulment for that reason. So this time when I got married I did the same thing…got pregant before we were married so if he cheats or somehow my second marriage ends in a divorce, I’ll have a way to get remarried again, if need be. Hopefully, I’ll make this marriage work…that is our plan.:smiley:

If there is any sin, it is in the past and can be confessed in the Confessional. It is not a sin to be currently divorced, but you may have done a bad thing (or omitted to do a good thing) - something that perhaps led to the divorce and the pain that accompanied it, and it would do your soul good to confess it, if you haven’t already. (I doubt this is the case, but of course only you can know.)

You now have a duty to live chastely; the fact that the divorce seems to have been his fault does not give you a free license to do anything sinful - sinful things do not suddenly become “not sin” merely because you are now a divorcee. (As I’m sure you already know.)

It would be good to find out about the process for a Declaration of Nullity. Your parish priest is the first person to contact about this. You might be eligible to receive this, and if so, then, after receiving it, you would be free to start dating again.

Welcome to CAF, cath0lic! :tiphat:

I am sorry that your first attempt at a husband failed. And failed in such a terrible manner. But for a marriage to be declared null, what happens in the Sacrament of Marriage is what determines whether the marriage is valid or not. It does not matter what happens after.

The intent to have and the creation of a “way out” prior to the sacrament of marriage invalidates it at the outset. Because it calls into question the sincerity of the “till death do us part” aspect of the vow that is made to God in the sacrament. It is a grave sin to do such a thing. It is akin to lying in the confessional, using something other than water in baptism or having a lay person pretend to consecrate a host.

I did not plan to get pregnant but it helped me to decide to marry him. My divorce was very hard on me and my kids and everyone involved and I was very frightened to get married again. As a Catholic, I don’t use birth control and hence why I got pregnant both times. If I had met my current spouse and had not gotten pregnant I probably would not be married to him because of my fear of divorce. I try very hard to live a Catholic life.

Have you now been made aware that having sex outside of marriage is just as sinful as using birth control? It is not a sin to get pregnant - children are God’s blessing - but the sin was when you had sex outside of marriage.

I hope this marriage works out for you. Pray both with and for your husband, and of course also with and for your children. May God bless you, and may you discover His will for you in your life. :slight_smile:

I understand that about sex before marriage. I remained a virgin til I was almost nineteen and found that to be highly unusual considering all my friends/peers were even in high school. Believe me, my husband and I stuggled constantly with not having sex. If fact, we both made the decision not to get ourselves in a compromising position again, but it was already too late because I few days later I found out I was pregnant. Just because I am Catholic doesn’t make me perfect. I sinned, confessed and I am forgiven.


I just wanted to caution you about your response. Many people who are divorced already feel much guilt about the situation, even though they have done nothing wrong. They have a lot of “what ifs” and wonder what they could have done differently to save the marriage. Sometimes they end up blaming themselves for normal human failures that do not justify their spouse seeking divorce.

I am very sure that you never meant to lead anyone to feel guilt for something that was not sinful. I was just concerned that your post could be easily misunderstood.

God bless.

And thank you for the welcome and prayers. :slight_smile:

An excellent and relevant book that can help everyone, married, single or divorced, is Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. I recommend this book to anyone. It is written in an easy-to-read Q&A format and does not use deep theological language.

no not necessarily, although there could be sin involved in the reasons for the divorce, on the part of one or both parties. It may be a sin to actively seek a divorce, depending on circumstances, but certainly not a sin if you did not initiate the action. There very often are situations where a civil divorce is a prudential necessity, such as protecting innocent spouse and children, preserving the rights and so forth. Yes, as long as you are otherwise in the state of grace you may still go to communion and are in good standing with the Church. Of course if someday you wish to remarry an annulment will be necessary, which you can begin working on a year or so after the divorce becomes final.

This is a very touchy subject, and I’ve been offended on occasion by someone’s comments.

Back to the original post…Honey, you’re fine. The divorce is not a mortal sin for you. I’ve been divorced for 16 years now, and there are times when I’d like to be married – like when my kids were teen-agers, and when my mother died – but I knew I would never marry again.

If you’re young and your kids are little and you think you might want to get married again, look into an annulment. But until you find out if that’s a possibility, I’d suggest you don’t even date. Don’t invite temptation. If you fall in love anyway, you have to decide what’s more important…getting married or your immortal soul. I’d protect my soul.

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