Permissible for a catholic to date a non-believer, who is divorced?


I know someone at work who is recently divorced. As far as I know, she and her ex were married in a civil ceremony. Would I be able to date her?


No. The Catholic Church generally recognises all marriages and presumes validity of them.

Ironically, the exeption would be if she was Catholic and married outside of the Church, in which case her marriage would be invalid, and once found that way you would be free to date her.

So you need to check if she was baptised as a Catholic, or at some other point joined the Catholic Church. If she was, then discuss with a priest and it should not be too hard to proceed. If she was not, then it will be very hard to proceed.

Regardless, you cannot date her until the matter is settled that she is free to do so, which sounds like a long shot I’m sorry to say.


There is no prohibition on dating given that it does not involve “marital relations”, but you should not set a date to be married.

From: an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Why does the Catholic Church require an intended spouse, who is divorced but not Catholic, to obtain an annulment before marrying in the Catholic Church?

The Catholic Church respects all marriages and presumes that they are valid. Thus, for example, it considers the marriages of two Protestant, Jewish, or even nonbelieving persons to be binding for life. The Church requires a declaration of nullity to establish that an essential element was missing in that previous union preventing it from being a valid marriage.

This is often a difficult and emotional issue. If the intended spouse comes from a faith tradition that accepts divorce and remarriage, it may be hard for them to understand why they must go through the Catholic tribunal process. Couples in this situation may find it helpful to talk with a priest or deacon. To go through the process can be a sign of great love of the non-Catholic for their intended spouse.

My fiance and I want to marry in the Catholic Church. He has been married before and has applied for an annulment. When can we set a date for our wedding?

You should not set a date until the annulment has been finalized. First, his petition may not be granted. Second, even if the petition is eventually granted, there may be unexpected delays in the process. Many pastors will not allow the couple to set a date until the petition is officially approved.

How much does it cost?

Fees associated with the process vary within the U.S. Most tribunals charge between $200 and $1,000 for a formal case depending on how much the diocese subsidizes the work of the tribunal. Fees are typically payable over time, and may be reduced or even waived in cases of financial difficulty. Other expenses may be incurred when consultation with medical, psychological, or other experts is needed.


Well, as long as you are ok with dating married women or men, that’s true. :rolleyes: There are some “lack of form” cases where there is no presumption that the prior marriage is valid. But for the marriage in the OP, where the person was not Catholic and civilly married, the presumption is that the first marriage is valid.

While “prohibition” may be a strong word, a person with an existing marriage is not free to date.


Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14


If you faith is really important to you, why would you want to date a non-believer, someone how doesn’t even share your Catholic faith? The divorce this is another issue and most of the posters address this but basically, dating is usually the stepping stones to marriage so if you are serious about your faith at all and practicing it, then you need to find someone that is interested in practicing with you as well as being sacramentally free to do so. Likewise, the fact that she works with you is another issue here. Dating co-workers is tricky enough and can lead to all kinds of issues and gossip and problems as well. There are too many red flags here, divorce, non-believer and co-worker. Not good.


If you are really*** Rosslyn***, and a Catholic, it would probably never be ok for you to date her.

Why even ask?


Haha…there’s a city in Virginia called Rosslyn



Good point


I very much see things in this situation as Corki does. If you want to start playing around with fire sooner or later someone is going to get burned. If it were me I would very much leave well enough alone. In the dating game if you don’t know what your doing it will lead to someone getting hurt. Unless you want to date for no reason which makes no sense. There’s usually a means to an end. Or at least a possibility of something working out.


You make all very good points and I agree with you. But the thing is then why exactly does the church allow Catholics to marry non-Catholic Christians or non-Christians? It must be possible and permissible in some situations.


Perhaps Rosslyn is the place he is from.


Rosslyn VA is just across the potomac from washington dc.



Must reconsider


Well, technically she doesn’t allow it . Catholics are required to marry Catholics and to marry in the Church. That’s the rule. But it’s a rule that can be dispensed by the priest (for marrying a non-Catholic Christian) or by the Bishop (for marrying a non-Christian).


Yes and the Catholic promises that the children are to be raised in the Catholic faith and the other spouse is supportive and and understand this is the obligation of the Catholic partner.


In most cases it would be inadvisable to date a divorced woman who in the eyes of the church is still married, but there are circumstances in which it reasonable to think that the first marriage can be annulled and the woman be brought into the church. I’d explain that that would have to be done as quickly as possible, but on guard that she converts too easily and not truly for herself.

Dating? there is no clear definition of what dating is. A man and a woman can go and do things together, but not be free to marry. The romantic attractions can be present, but strictly not enacted. Explanations clearly made that her freedom from the previous marriage must come at the first displayed hint of romantic attractions by either. My point is that there are rare cases where this may work and lead to a good Catholic marriage, but the pit falls are many and one should probably only proceed with dating with the council of a good Catholic spiritual adviser whom you will trust and heed if he/she tells you to end it.


Thing is in my parish there are not many young people. I am 44 yo so maybe shouldn’t be looking at them anyway. And no people my age single that I know of. And there are many older married persons. There’s nothing in the vicariate anyway that promotes Catholic dating. I have heard people say it’s not good to be alone. I guess that would depend on what you are saying exactly because sometimes it is better to be alone.

Let me ask you Corki, and anyone else because Corki is good with catechesis. Is marriage more for child rearing than just being with someone?


What you explain here is one of the reasons why it is relatively easy to get permission to marry a non-Catholic. Like I said, that’s the rule but it’s a rule that can be dispensed.

Let me ask you Corki, and anyone else because Corki is good with catechesis. Is marriage more for child rearing than just being with someone?

A Catholic marriage isn’t “just being with someone”. The first purpose of marriage is to create a family and bring children into the world should that be God’s will. The complementary purpose of marriage is to support each other and help to get your spouse to Heaven. Companionship is a great fringe benefit of marriage but it’s not the main purpose.


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