On valid Marrige


First, I’m not married (so noone asks if my marrige was performed be a preist or anything this is just curiosity).
ok with that out of the way. I had asked about annulements some time ago and they brought up that if there was no free consent (there was no valid marrige), no intent to have children (there was no valid marrige).
I was wondering what goes into a valid marrige?
1.Free Consent
2. Intent to accept children
6.Thanks for the help and God bless.


Did you read over the Catechism?


This chapter of Nullity of Marriage by Frank J. Sheed gives a good overview of the grounds for nullity. It is slightly out-of-date due to the new 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The code requirements can be found here. In particular, look at individual diriment impediments and matrimonial consent.


[quote=Montie Claunch]I was wondering what goes into a valid marrige?. . .

The references to the Code and the Catechism are excellent. Read them. I’ll comment a little, as non-technically as I can, but won’t be able to cover everything. Just a real thumbnail sketch. So let me put this into shorthand by a handy formula, FIC.


These come from Canon 1057 §1. The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage; (no human power is able to supply this consent. §2. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other, through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage.)

Legitimately manifested: the legal requirements for how marriage is celebrated, form, must be followed. Generally, a Latin Catholic is required to celebrate marriage with the active assistance of an authorized priest or deacon and two witnesses. This is called the “Catholic form of marriage.” There are exceptions, though, and dispensations or relaxations of the law can be given though.

If the form is lacking for a Catholic, unless an exception or dispensation exists, the marriage is considered as though it had not happened at all, and can be declared so without a nullity trial.

Persons qualified by law: the parties are free from impediments that disqualify them. Impediments are obstacles to a valid marriage which can arise from divine law or ecclesiastical (Church) law. Divine law impediments include already being in a valid marriage and forms of close blood relationships. Ecclesiastical impediments include a number of things, such as being a priest or deacon, or having made permanent vows in certain forms of religious life, and marriage to an unbaptized person. The Church may relax the law so that the ecclesiastical impediments no longer prevent a valid marriage. It cannot relax divine law.

If an impediment exists, the marriage can be declared invalid on that basis.

Consent: a human act of the will to give oneself and to receive the other in marriage. This is what the vows in a wedding ceremony do. The consent must be properly informed, free, unconditional, and both parties have to be able to do what they promise, that is, to fulfill the essential obligations and duties of marriage. When the parties give consent, the law presumes they have consented to marriage as the Creator defined it and are capable of living out the consent. Here are some canons that describe this.

Canon 1055:§1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, which is ordered by its nature toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized. §2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.

Canon 1056:The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of of the sacrament.

Canon 1096: §1. For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation and education of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.

I’ll briefly comment on that consent in a next post.


The following is a general sketch about marital consent and not written with exacting precision and technicality. It is not intended to replace personal counsel by a qualified canon lawyer or expert, or pastoral counsel by a parish priest or other minister.

When the parties give and receive consent, the law presumes they intend marriage as a partnership of the whole of life and the good of the other spouse, openness to children, fidelity, and permanence. If a person excludes one of those intentions (good of the spouse, good of children, good of fidelity, or good of permanence) by a positive act of the will at the time of consent, he or she fails to give consent. If a person goes through a ceremony for purpose other than marriage, such as getting a green card, he or she has not given consent to marriage itself.

Consent also requires freedom and knowledge. A consent into which one is forced or compelled by certain kinds of grave fear is invalid. Certain kinds of error and fraud (which leads someone into error) can invalidate consent. Consent has to be unconditional. Certain conditions placed on consent may invalidate it. Consent requires the use of reason. A person lacking the use of reason cannot marry validly. Consent requires the act of the will to be informed in proportion to the gravity of the commitment. A person who cannot properly evaluate the duties of marriage in the concrete lacks the discretion needed for valid consent. Consent requires that a party can do what is promised. If he or she is not able to fulfil the essential matrimonial obligations for reasons of a psychological cause which pre-existed the wedding, the party was not capable of consent.

**But the law presumes consent is given properly and a marriage is valid until proven otherwise in a tribunal according to the norms of law. A Christian understanding of the human being (Christian anthropology) presumes people are capable of marriage by nature.

I will conclude, since the topic of nullity is involved here, with two principles. 1) the Church seeks the reconciliation of parties when there has been separation. 2) parties do have the right to know their status in the Church and thus present cases to a tribunal for adjudication.**

Let us pray for all marriages, strong or weak, happy or unhappy, for those contemplating it, for the divorced, and for the widowed. May all of us seek God’s will first and rely on God’s power.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.