Is the court marriage of two Catholics a valid marriage?

My friend was married in the court system, even though both her and her husband are catholic. Now the husband has become abusive to her and thier young child, and she needs to leave him for her and her child’s safety. Does the church recognize thier marriage as being a holy union, or is this marriage illlegitimate?

Dear Stephie,

Any marriage performed outside of the Catholic Church or without its permission is automatically invalid. So your friend’s marriage is legal, but not recognized by the Catholic Church. She has done well to leave her husband since he has been abusive to her and her child. She is in our prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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