Marriage Convalidation Frustrations (Not Annulement)


My wife and I have been going through the convalidation process for a few months now and it has been the most unpleasant process I think I have ever gone thorugh. We are to get married in January and my wife and I just can’t wait for it to be over we are so tried of all the obsticles we have to deal with. Let me give you some background, my family moves quite a bit and where we live now we don’t have any family or friends really, although my mother-in-law is moving into town today. This information will come into perspective later.

We were required to take three seperate classes which I do agree with they cover, basic marriage issues, more personal bounding, and natural family planing. To go to these classes we had to have family from out of state come to babysit my 6 year old and our new born, but again I do understand the purpose of these classes. That was the first obsticle. Now we were told we need to get signed affidavits from two people from each of our families which had to be done at a catholic church and then sent from that church back to our church. These mainly had basic questions on them nothing special. So to recap we have done three weekends of classes and had people fly from out of state so that we could take them because children are not allowed and there is no child care and we had to send four relatives in for questioning at there locate parishes. The following is what finally made me question this whole process, yesterday we went in for a final meeting and expressed that we want the most basic service possible because no family will be able to make it. So to be sure because of all these random hoops we have had to jump through my wife asked if it mattered if the witnesses were both from her side because her mother and grandmother just moved, the women said she will have to ask the priest, which is very common with here everytime we have a question we are force to wait for her to find the answer and call us back (which many times did not happen). Now to what sent me over the edge is my wife just called crying and said that she told her that we must have one male and one female witness, again becuase we don’t know anyone she said that maybe the church can find someone. This to me makes no sense, so I did a little research and can’t find a requirement like this stated by the church. At the end of the phone call with my wife holding back tears she said, “I just can’t wait for this to be over”.

Has anyone ever dealt or heard of anything like this, I have kept my cool through all the issues so far but this did it for me I am so over these requirements especially the last one because I see no reson for it or any information to back it up. It seems as if they are trying to keep people from getting marrages convalidated or just getting married in the church.


Are both you and your wife Catholic?Just wondering,my daughter and SIL were married in a civil ceremony,both Catholic,want to have their marriage convalidated also.
From what I have read,I was under the assumption that a convalidation was a fairly easy process.:confused:


Are you saying that 3 inconveniences out of your entire life is too much to bear?
There are a lot more problems in the world than that.


The Church takes marriage seriously. A lifelong commitment.
What was requested of you is required of all couples. The church at this point does not consider your to be married and this is the beginning of your marriage. These are not obstacles, but a means to see if you understand the nature and responsibility of marriage as viewed and taught by the Church.
The affidavits are standard and part of canon law. The requirement is that they are witnesses that there are no impediments form you entering into this sacramental marriage.
In the marriage itself, there is a the requirement to have a male and female witness, Best man and maid of honor, for the the affidavits it needs to be someone who knows you well but gender makes no difference.

Deacon Frank


Unfortunately some lay people as well as priests get too caught up in their own realm of authority.I have seen it happen all too often.They often cause much harm.I personally have told more than one priest where to head off to in no uncertain terms.It reminds me of the gospel where Jesus condemns the pharisees stating they place impossible burdens upon people .Many things in the Church are definitely black and white, but there is also a whole lot of gray matter.This last burden of requiring a male and female falls into that category.You have jumped through many hoops already.It seems they need to be a little more understanding of your situation.


First of all, congratulations on getting your marriage convalidated! :thumbsup::):bounce::yup::clapping:

I’m sorry it’s been so hard. That does sound difficult, but I’ve learned the Catholic Church is, in its wisdom, quite thorough. Sometimes, this can be even a major inconvenience, but it generally has developed these policies for very good reasons after extended times of dealing with these issues.

I am sorry that the moves and other factors have complicated matters, as well.

I hope it will work out soon, and again, I want to commend you for your patience and diligence. I think if you can just “hang in there” just a little longer that you will be able to resolve these issues and enjoy all the benefits.

I’ll close with a prayer that God may help you get through the last leg of this.

God bless and congratulations! :thumbsup:
Hail Mary,
Full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou amoungst women,
And blessed is the fruit of Thy womb,
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of death,


Hi ms83,

It must feel overwhelming to you and your wife, being in a new place where you don’t know anyone else yet, and then having to meet all of the requirements of the convalidation.

I know what that is like, too–preparing for a convalidation. My husband and I had our marriage convalidated many years ago. It can take several months to get all of the paperwork done with the priest, as you know.

It will all be over soon, so just take it all as it comes and try to hang on just a little bit longer, and it will be done before you know it. :slight_smile:

May God Bless You and your Wife, and your families.


This is false. Affidavits are NOT a canon law requirement. My DH and I had no such requirement when we married.

Now, if the bishop of that particular diocese requires it, that is within his authority. But is not accurate to say that it is a requirement of “all” couples.

Not true. Below are the relevant canons, and there is no mention of affidavits. The canons merely state that the pastor is to ascertain no impediments stand in the way, and the bishops conference may set norms-- via banns or other means.

Can. 1066 Before a marriage is celebrated, it must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration.

Can.* 1067 The conference of bishops is to establish norms about the examination of spouses and about the marriage banns or other opportune means to accomplish the investigations necessary before marriage. After these norms have been diligently observed, the pastor can proceed to assist at the marriage.

Again, if the bishop of the diocese established such a procedure, it must be followed but it is not a universal norm.

This is also entirely false.

There is NO canon law requiring the witnesses to be one of each sex. The law merely requires two witnesses, it does NOT require they be of opposite sex from one another.

Can. 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. ⇒ 144, ⇒ 1112, §1, ⇒ 1116, and ⇒ 1127, §§1-2.*


Please feel free to quote canon 1108, which I already posted above. And should this continue to drag out with nonsensical requirements then I suggest you contact either the judicial vicar of the diocese you live in or the St Joseph foundation,

The SJF’s mission is to help those whose canon law rights are violated. You do have a right to marriage if there are no impediments to validity. And the “hoops” should be neither arbitrary nor onerous. Those you have listed in your OP certainly are both.


I always thought it was up to the priest what level of preparation classes a couple would be required to take. My husband and I were married in a Methodist church (although both of us were baptized Catholics, he wasn’t practicing and I had been raised Methodist). We’d been married for 12 years and had 2 kids when we decided to come back to the Catholic Church and all we had to do was meet with our priest and he had us take a personality assessment type test to see where we had compatible ideas about raising children, finances, communication, etc and where we had differences. After one meeting with him he said he had no problems with us going ahead with the convalidation. He is a very orthodox priest and also a canon lawyer, so he’s not one to just skip things that are required! I could see making a young couple that had just gotten married in a civil ceremony still have to go through months of preparation, but in our case I guess he figured we knew what we were getting into! :slight_smile:

We had to provide our baptism records and our civil marriage license, and then we planned the small ceremony. My parents were our witnesses and they are not practicing Catholics.


My situation was very similar to powerlinemom’s.

I didn’t have to provide signed affidavits from anyone.

We also didn’t have to attend classes or do any type of personality assessments.

Like you, we had been civilly married for a while, we had a 7 year old.

I am so sorry you have had to go through all of this, ms83.

Hopefully your parish has run out of hurdles for you.


No. It’s not just about the inconveniences for them, which they seem willing to comply with, but rather the inconveniences for a whole lot of other people that have nothing to do with this These requests are not required by Canon Law, nor are they reasonable, nor are they necessary to the process (unless the bishop requires it). There is a difference between a required inconvenience and an unrequired roadblock.

I had some issues with “requirements” for my annulment. I just simply told them “that’s not going to happen, so how are we going to deal with this issue?” and we worked around it.


thistle, have some compassion. This has clearly been a trying experience for OP, and he’s trying hard to do the right thing.


Since when? Very often the witnesses are the 2 fathers. The only reqirement is that there be two witnesses who are old enough. Their gender doesn’t matter – this is a wedding, not a baptism.


Thank you for the comments and encouragement. This was partially a vent post mainly because I had just got off the phone with my wife who was very upset. This is something we are going to get through so there is no worry of us not completeing the process. As WarriorMonk stated my wifes biggest issue is why it has to involve some many people that have nothing to truely do with the marriage. As I stated in my OP I do agree or see logic in all of this churches requirements up until the two witnesses having to be one male one female (I was able to have my brother come into town), yet even though I don’t understand it I will do what is instruct of me by the church. As Powerlinemom stated it seems from the people I have talked to as well that it never was this involved. Part of the reason I posted this I thought maybe this is the new norm. But again we are going to get through the process and hopefully convalidatebeginnng of January. :thumbsup:


My experience was similar to this. We may have had the affidavits, but they were signed before the ceremony by our witnesses. We were fortunate to have parents available. It was a very simple ceremony on the day before my son’s baptism. Both of our parents were there. I think our father’s signed as witnesses. I think that this situation may be what Pope Francis is talking about when wanting marriage regulations simplified. Marriage is important. I think church employees and clergy need to do whatever is necessary to make Marriage Convalidation available for returning Catholics. I work as a DRE and I would even provide childcare if needed. The Church is a Servant to her people. Think of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.


This is how our priest and the Bishop looked at it. My husband and I had been married civilly for 11 years. We had a seven year old. I wanted to be right with the Church and with God.

If they had given my husband, who didn’t really care if we received the Convalidation, too many hoops to jump through, he would have given up. Is that what we want? :shrug:

Do we want to make it so hard to receive the sacraments that people give up? Make it so difficult that people say sorry, it just takes too much time, energy and money?

Think about the expense of what the OP has had to go through. People flying in and out of the city. Someone had to do this for three weekends. How much did that cost? Who can afford that? I know I couldn’t, if I had to do it now.

It all just sounds like too much.


DH and I didn’t have to go through that many hoops to have our marriage convalidated. That said, we initially thought that DH’s nullity process would just be a documentary procedure, so we had gone through all of the premarital stuff beforehand. Even so, all we had to do for premarital preparation was have an interview with Father (he asked us questions about the nature of the ceremony, who our witnesses would be, and about impediments to the marriage), attend a marriage preparation course that lasted one weekend, and submit a copy of my baptismal certificate to our church (DH converted as an adult, and was baptized in that parish, so they already had his records). This was all accomplished before DH received his declaration of nullity - actually before we knew he would need a formal nullity trial. Before our convalidation, Father met with us briefly to discuss what we wanted, and asked for a copy of the letter stating DH’s first marriage was invalid. I think we might also have had to provide our civil marriage certificate, but that was it. We didn’t have formal “witnesses” per se, but my parents and DH’s godparents stood up with us.

This sounds as if it is just a situation peculiar to your local area. You might speak to the priest and explain your situation - he should be willing to work within the confines of your circumstances, particularly as the two witnesses do not have to be of the opposite sex.


Are you talking about witnesses who can vouch for the fact that you have no prior bonds or witnesses to the actual convalidation? If the latter, no one has to “come into town”. The witnesses can be anyone. Since convalidations are often private ceremonies, even Church secretaries have been used for this. They aren’t standing up for you like a sponsor, simply witnessing.

With respect, I think you may be stressing over this and finding problems where they may not exist. Do you really have someone fly in every time you need a babysitter? If so, that’s a problem that has nothing to do with the convalidation process but is a family dynamic issue.


I acted as a witness to a convalidation when I was a 17 year old high school senior who just happened to be helping out in the CCD office the day of the ceremony. However I have heard of parishes who push to make convalidations more “formal” because they want to stress to the couple that this IS the wedding, not just some Church formality. Perhaps this is such a parish?

If this was an Engaged Encounter or other multi-day event then it might be a true hardship for a couple with no family nearby. A local babysitter for a few hours a day is one thing. Leaving young children with non-family for 48+ hours is another.

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