Marriage

I am getting married in 3 weeks in the catholic church. Quite a few years ago I was married by a justice of the peace for 2 days and realize what a HUGE mistake I had just made. I received an annulment in the court system immediately and has been something of my past. Now that I am getting married in the catholic church does my first marriage count as a previous marriage? I am confused because it was not originaly recongized as an actual marriage in and outside the church. From my understanding I believe that an annlument in the court system considers a marriage as if it had never occured.

Have you talked to the priest yet?

If you are Catholic and were at the time of the first marriage, that marriage was not valid due to defect of form, but there is still some paperwork you need to do, and hopefully it will not take too long. It ‘does’ count in that it does need to be ‘accounted for’. It isn’t as though it never happened.

The ‘court’ or legal annulment is not the same as the decree of nullity in the Church. Even with the decree of nullity the Church does not say a marriage 'never happened; but rather, that the marriage was not sacramentally valid.

You need to talk to the priest ASAP. Do not be afraid, but you must get this out so that it can be dealt with in a timely manner.

Hi, there.

There’s quite a bit of information missing in your question that may keep us from answering. That said, I’ll try to help.

Since you said that you are getting married in a Catholic church, does this mean that you are marrying another Catholic? Are you Catholic yourself?

While the Catholic Church sees any legally-created marriage as valid, the Church does NOT recognize the civil process of “annulment.” When you are married, you’re married.

To determine whether a prior marriage was entered into properly (validly and sacramentally) or if a critical element of any marriage was missing at the time of the wedding, the Church uses groups known as *tribunals *to examine prior marriage cases (once a party of the prior marriage submits a request to ask for such examination).

If the Church believes that the prior marriage was not validly entered, a declaration of nullity is granted, and the person is free to marry. There are other special exceptions where a prior marriage can be dissolved if one or both parties involved were not baptized, too.

Based on the point that you are marrying in a Catholic parish very soon, your priest or diocese should have already determined your eligibility to marry. If that is the case, you need not question that decision.

If you have not told your priest that you had already been married (even briefly): immediately see your priest!

Yes we both are catholic and seeking to have a catholic mass.

We have been speaking to our priest and I thought since it was a civil marriage and done outside the church and a civil annulment was made it was an invaild marriage so I spoke to him as if i was never married.

Only when my fiancee and I went for our marriage license did the annulment situation came up. I have told my fiancee many years ago about it but we never speak of the situation and i have tried to forget that it ever happened.

I am now afraid we won’t beable to get married on our wedding day in the catholic church because it is so soon and we have 300 people coming to our cermony and reception. I don’t know what I should do.

Call your priest NOW!!!

So you (without intending to) misled the priest? Ouch.

As I said, if you are Catholic and married the first time outside the church it was not valid BUT you do need to do the ‘defect of form’ paperwork.

Tell your priest IMMEDIATELY. It is possible that the paperwork can be expedited in order to be done before the wedding. Your priest can guide you.

But you MUST let him know. Explain that you truly thought since you did not marry in the Church and it was ‘legally’ annuled that you thought it was the same thing as the "annulment’ from the Church and that you were thus (as you truly will be( free to marry as though this were your first marriage. You’ll be in my prayers.

You know, even if you had to ‘reschedule’, is that so terrible? What of people who had their weddings disrupted not with 3 months to prepare, but the day before, due to natural disasters, etc.? The wedding is a one-day ceremony --marriage is for life. The marriage and life is more ‘important’. So without worrying about ‘worst case’ scenarios, just do the right thing.

Well, she was never LEGALLY married, since the marriage was declared null by a court of law. She was never VALIDLY married since she is a Catholic who did not observe the form required by the Church.

The advice to call the priest NOW is the best advice given. It might take a while but I’m sure that the priest and the bishop will deal with this expeditiously. In our diocese a defect of form doesn’t even have to go to the Tribunal. Not to say it never does, but it can sometimes be dealt with by the priest, with the bishop’s knowledge.

You need to get yourself to your parish office immediately to fill out a form called the “defect of form” (lack or absence of canonical form). Or it might be on your diocesan website – look under the Tribunal and Canonical Affairs link. Bring a copy of your marriage license and of the civil annulment, and a recent copy of your Baptismal record. You might need a notarized witness statement (by a parent, relative or friend). Bring contact information about your ex-spouse (name, address if you have it, contact information, date of birth).
Call your parish secretary when the office opens, to schedule an appointment with the pastor, and tell her it’s of the utmost urgency. The diocesan Tribunal office cannot begin the process until the paperwork is complete. You must solicit the pastor’s help immediately.
Didn’t your pastor ask you whether you’ve been married before?

According to her, he did, but since she isn’t considered to have been legally married she answered “No.”

Make an appointment with your priest ASAP. Gather your documents to bring to him. Hopefully you have enough time to get this sorted out. You probably want to plan a trip to the confessional ( if you haven’t already ) for marrying outside the church ( if you were Catholic at the time - it wasn’t clear to me ).

A decree of nullity says that no valid marriage ever happened. Sacramentality doesn’t enter into it. If you get decree of nullity, you were never really married.

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