Multiple divorce wanting to enter the Church

I am just wondering about what I was advised about recently. I married young more than once prior to having any religious life. The first was at 22 yrs just got up and went to the courthouse type of situation. I was advised that I may not have as hard a time with annulment as I have been assuming. If I understood correctly what was said , that I would only have to deal with the first as the other would not be considered valid because the first was never annulled. Also that immaturity? would be a factor in the case of the first.
I am wondering if anyone has any insight to this? does that sound right or would I need to go through the process in both the cases of the first and second? In any case I feel called to the Catholic Church and to follow the Pope’s lead so I am committed to do what is right by the Church in the matter!


You have not given a great deal of information here but if you are talking about two marriages they will both have to be dealt with individually. So, the first statement above is not correct. One way or another, each marriage has to be addressed in a separate process. You’ll need to speak with a knowledgeable person (at the local Tribunal or parish) and lay out all the facts. That person should be able to give you some direction and get the ball rolling.


Firstly, I recommend you call the local parish priest, make an appointment, and explain to him that you’re looking to convert. See if you can enroll in the parish’s RCIA program, or a similar program.
Also, tell him about your previous marriages. He’ll likely refer you to the Diocese’s Tribunal, which deals with this sort of stuff.

I am by no means a Canonist (an expert in Church law), but here are some points that I can think of that may be helpful:
Both marriages will need to be looked into, but you’ll only need one annulment at most. A few things to think of:
*]If you received the Sacrament of Baptism in a Catholic Church at any point before you married, the marriage may be declared devoid of sufficient form, which is a slightly simpler process.
*]If the first spouse passed away after you married the second spouse, there is no need for an annulment, since only your first marriage was cannonically valid.
*]If the decisions were rushed into, you probably have a good case. It’ll be up to the Tribunal to decide, this may take a few weeks or months though.

It may also be worth your time to read the following articles:
]Annulment FAQ’s* by the USCCB
]Clearing Up Annulment Misconceptions* by Our Sunday Visitor

The advice you were given is correct to the best of my knowledge. The first marriage was, for Catholic Church purposes, presumed to have been valid at the time of the second marriage which makes the second marriage automatically invalid.

Getting the second marriage declared null should be a matter of paperwork. You’d need certificates from both marriages and the divorce papers from the original marriage to submit to the tribunal.

Getting the first marriage declared invalid will take a bit more work and a lot more time if it is indeed invalid. Determining if the marriage was valid is up to the tribunal.

There are fees for the annulment to cover the tribunals expenses in processing your cases. The fee varies from diocese to diocese. If you have financial hardship, you can request a payment arrangement or ask the annulments be done free of charge.

How long it takes to have a decision varies from diocese to diocese. It could be literally anywhere from a few months to a few years.

Contact your parish priest as soon as possible to get the ball rolling,

Good luck!


A Tribunal can’t handle the cases like that. It would end up saying the second marriage was prevented by the bond of the first marriage, which actually was never valid. If it was never valid, there was never a bond that could have prevented the second marriage. There was a time when some USA Tribunals actually handled multiple marriages like this but the Apostolic Signatura put a stop to that in the mid 1980’s.

There might be times when the first marriage is accepted as valid, preventing the second marriage, but is then dissolved. That’s not normal and is not the same as saying the first marriage was invalid.

There are times when the person marries someone who has been married before. That might lead to a “prior bond” case. Maybe that will apply to the OP’s case(s).


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