Marriage for 15 yrs, no annulment by husband for earlier marriage, is the marriage null and void


I wonder could someone help with this. A recent convert to the CC, a woman, has been married to a catholic man for 15 yrs. He was previously married in the CC and I assume obtained a civil divorce but not an annulment. She has now been informed by her priest that she is not married as her husband did not get an annulment from his previous marriage.

My query is are they still legally married in the law of the land, i.e. the USA, although the CC does not recognise this 15 yr old marriage, within the church? She has been told he must apply for an annulment (which in reality he may not obtain) - so what happens in these situations, is she still married to him by the law of the land or is it totally null and void.


Yes, they are legally married under US law.


If his 1st wife is still alive he really needs to get started on the decree of nullity ASAP.

My thoughts and prayers are with them.


They are still legally married but not Sacramentally. They do have the option which they can discuss with their priest of living as brother and sister and still receiving the Eucharist until such time that the decree of nullity can be received if it can be received and the marriage can be convalidated.


Yes, she is still legally married. I am curious to know, though, how she was received into the Church without ever mentioning that she was civilly married to someone who was already married to someone else. I know in my parish's RCIA, one of the first things Father determined with the catechumens and candidates was whether there were any impediments to receiving the sacraments of initiation. Attempting marriage with someone who is already married in they eyes of the Church would be one such impediment.


The woman’s RCIA program failed her in not dealing with the marriage issue up front. As “a recent convert” her marriage situation should have been discussed and appropriate steps taken before she was received into the Church. She should not be informed by her priest AFTER the fact that she is not validly married. What if her husband is unable to obtain a declaration of nullity?

I always feel kind of nosy when I’m asking someone about whether they’ve been married before, whether their spouse has been married before, and if the spouse is already Catholic, whether they were married in the Church. But then I remind myself of the problems that can arise if I don’t ask these kinds of questions.


If he was legally divorced and legally remarried to his second wife, then his second marriage is legal under the secular law. The Catholic Church has a different view however. If he did not obtain an annulment for the first marriage, then the priest is correct, he is not considered married to his second wife. The husband MUST get an annulment from the first marriage in order to properly marry his second wife. Until then they are not married and are commiting adultery. They must either live as brother and sister or refrain from the sacraments until the situation is resolved. They should seek further advice from a priest.


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