Is my marriage valid?

Originally Posted by sharonvanecek
I am married to a man who was married before, it is my first marriage. I question now, why the church allowed me to marry this man and sometimes wonder if I am married. He was married to a lady by a justice of the peace in what used to be Czechoslovakia when it was under the communists, He was actually baptized in some evangelical lutheran church but he never practiced anything. He tells me his first wife was Catholic . I imagine she too was baptized as it seems as though baptism was the one thing the communists allowed, or maybe the people just did it- I do not know. I Thought when I married him that the church does not recognize marriages by justice of the peace, so I figured it was okay for us to get married. But since then, people have told me that is not true, that a marriage by justice of the peace is recognized by the church. Neither of those people go to church or practice anything. They could not have gotten married in a church even if they wanted to ( I guess ) so it would seem to me that their marriage was valid in the church’s eyes. My husband and I went to Cana conference and the priest took the info and knew my husband was divorced and my husband took his paper showing his baptism. We were married in the church- with the sacrament of Matrimony. I am very concerned about this issue. I would like to know if my marriage is truly valid in the eyes of the church. Can you tell me why the priest married us? ( I wonder about the priest because he also let my husband receive Communion on that day, which I know was wrong) I am a Catholic - in love with the church, Sharon

Dear Sharon,

The Catholic Church recognizes marriages by a justice of the peace as valid for non-Catholics. But it does not recognize such marriages for Catholics. Since your husband was married to a Catholic by a justice of the peace, that marriage was not valid. So your current marriage in the Catholic Church should be valid!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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