New member, non-Catholic, divorce situation help


#1

Hello all,

I am new to the forums but have been reading for awhile. I have been a Christian for roughly 6 years and have been married for 3 years. My wife is also a Christian and has been so for her entire life. We have been attending a non-denominational protestant (Calvary chapel) for our entire marriage and she was raised in this church. We have 3 children, 1 from her first marriage and 2 from this marriage. My wife married a baptized Christian man in her first marriage and divorced him primarily because he went out and got a girlfriend and committed adultery after she moved out. When we married, my conscience was concerned with that previous situation, but I think that I wanted to be married bad enough I more or less assumed it was okay that I marry her and wouldnt somehow be adultery in marrying her.

Fast forward........My wife moved out 9 months ago to her parents house and has now filed for divorce. I have been moving towards the Catholic faith since before we were married but pushed it aside out of laziness and cowardice. Now that I am faced with this divorce, I am wondering what my status will be once I formally begin my journey to the Catholic Church. Post divorce, where do I stand with the Church and would I be free to re-marry within the Church?

Any help is appreciated. I really want to make the best of a very sad situation.

chiefarcher


#2

My prayers are with you.

If you were to become Catholic, the church would presume that your marriage was valid because you were both baptized Christians. If you wanted to marry in the church, you would need to bring this marriage before a marriage tribunal. They would review it and determine the marriage was valid. If it is determined that the marriage was valid, then you would not be able to marry in the church. If it was considered invalid, then the church declares the marriage null and you would be free to marry in the church.

Just for clarification, the church cannot dissolve a valid marriage. They can only make a judgement to whether or not a valid marriage existed in the first place. If it was valid then it is a valid until your spouse dies. If it is not valid, then you were never truly married in the first place.

Talk to the pastor at your parish. He will be able to give you more guidance.


#3

[quote="chiefarcher, post:1, topic:226731"]
Fast forward........My wife moved out 9 months ago to her parents house and has now filed for divorce. I have been moving towards the Catholic faith since before we were married but pushed it aside out of laziness and cowardice. Now that I am faced with this divorce, I am wondering what my status will be once I formally begin my journey to the Catholic Church. Post divorce, where do I stand with the Church and would I be free to re-marry within the Church?

[/quote]

If you are in RCIA or seriously thinking about it, the best person to talk with is your pastor. He'll be able to ask appropriate questions and determine your status.

In general, being divorced is not a bar to becoming Catholic. (Divorced-and-remarried is a problem, but divorced-and-living-as-a-single-person is not.) This comes with the understanding that you are not free to date and remarry.

In order to be free to marry in the Church you would need a declaration of nullity. This is a process that looks to see if you entered into a valid marriage.

I'm not a canon lawyer, but the fact that your wife was previously married would seem to me to mean that she was not free to marry you and thus the two of you did not enter into a valid marriage.

But your pastor really is the best one to help you sort through this.


#4

You would need to submit your case to the tribunal, you might have a Ligamen case if you can meet the standards of proof. If not, you could go through a formal case.

See this chart which explains options depending upon one’s baptismal status and whether or not parties to the marriages were Catholic or not.


#5

I thank you all for taking some time to offer help. I will contact my parish’ pastor and go from there.


#6

I've just signed up for site and in the process of ligamen.... perhaps it is too late and you've figured this out but.... seems to me you may have a situation of ligamen. Your wife had a prior marriage that was not annulled in the Catholic Church prior to her marrying you. (yes I understand none of the parties were married in the church - nontheless the first marriage was not annulled).
The Spirit be with you on your road....


#7

thanks for replying! These forums are great.

An update-

I spoke to my parish pastor about the situation and was told to assume my marriage was 'valid'. Of particular note- I explained that my wife's previous 'marriage' had some aspects to it that made it more than likely 'invalid'......wife felt pressured to marry by her family, extremely short duration of the marriage, husbands behavior and known issues more than likely indicate psychological impediements/ immaturity and/or inability to truly deliver what he promised in marriage.

My marriage is now officially dissolved according to the state and I am seeing a christian therapist to explore my issues. What I now suspect is that both my wife and I had impediments to prevented us from entering into a valid marriage in the eyes of God. This is an excruciatingly difficult time and process and I still 'feel' attached to my ex-wife. That being said, I am trying to be open to understanding that I may not have truly had the ability to enter into a valid marriage...despite my intent and good will when I made my vows.

I have learned so much about marriage and specifically true marriage. I still have hope for the marriage but I'm trying to balance that with reality and God's will for my life. The thought of being too defective to marry is very difficult to explore.

God Bless you for reading and taking interest


#8

don't write yourself off just yet. I think that sometimes when we are going through such pain, the negativity gets the better of you. I wonder that about myself too. Then I wonder if the problem is that it was just never valid in the first place so their was not enough grace to be anything but a dream of a marriage.

Keep up with the counselling, we all have issues to work on. Deal with whatever issues you have. Be honest. Sign up for RCIA, learn the basics...there is more than RCIA but that gets you prepared to understand what is expected from you. Be patient. You do not want to be in a hurry.


#9

May God continue to give you courage, wisdom, and faith and lead you on your journey.
May God abundantly bless you


#10

[quote="chiefarcher, post:1, topic:226731"]
HelloFast forward........My wife moved out 9 months ago to her parents house and has now filed for divorce. I have been moving towards the Catholic faith since before we were married but pushed it aside out of laziness and cowardice. Now that I am faced with this divorce, I am wondering what my status will be once I formally begin my journey to the Catholic Church. Post divorce, where do I stand with the Church and would I be free to re-marry within the Church?

Any help is appreciated. I really want to make the best of a very sad situation.

chiefarcher

[/quote]

welcome home
there is no real way to get an answer here on a general discussion forum that is going to address your own individual situation. Make an appointment with the priest at the parish where you think you want to explore the idea of becoming Catholic. Tell him all the facts about your marriage situation, and other aspects of your life and let him guide you. If each of you has been married before, the Catholic Church considers those first marriages valid unless and until proven otherwise. Since this was a second marriage for both of you, and you each still had a living spouse, on the face of it likely the second marriage was not valid. As I say this is only the broadest general answer. There are dozens of variables that come into play and individual pastoral advice from a priest is going to be more helpful to you.

Should you divorce this time, and if you ever decide to marry again, you would have to apply for an annulment investigation, beginning with the earliest marriage, to find out if you are free to marry.


#11

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