Putative marriage?


What is a putative marriage exactly? I read the following on Wikipedia (maybe not the best source for these types of things...) and I wasn't sure what it meant exactly.

Validation of marriage or convalidation of marriage is, in Roman Catholic canon law, making a putative marriage a valid one, after the removal of an impediment, or its dispensation, or the removal of defective consent. Once a putative marriage has been validated, it cannot be annulled.

I'm mostly curious about the last sentence referring to annullments. Are all convalidations putative marriages? For instance, if a couple gets married by a JOP and later goes through a convalidation, would that make their marriage putative? And why wouldn't those marriages be able to be annulled? All of these different terms are hard to keep track of! :)



I think Wikipedia may have the last term wrong here -

It is not that it can’t be annulled in the fact that it can’t be examined through the decree of nullity process after a putative marriage is convalidated - it is to say that it cannot be dissolved through Pauline or Petrine privelege - or through a lack of form.

A putative marriage would be something (putting this very basic) is a marriage where basically the marriage is a natural marriage but it is invalid or illicit due to the Catholic party or parties not following the proper form - ie marrying in the Church, receiving dispensation to marry a non-baptized person. During a putative marriage the Catholic party should not be receiving Eucharist and if the non-Catholic party wished to convert to Catholicism there may be issues there as well.

God bless.


Hello SRN,

A putative marriage is a marriage that is entered by at least one party in good faith but which is, in fact, invalid. So, yes, convalidations are “done” to putative marriages, although a Catholic who “gets married” before a JOP without dispensation does not even have a putative marriage (long story but worth pointing out). Once a convalidation takes place, one would think that the marriage would no longer be putative (ie, invalid).

In the Catholic perspective, no marriage can be “annulled.” A putative marriage is, in fact, not a marriage. So, there is nothing to “annul.” A valid marriage can not be “annulled.” From the opposite perspective, and using the proper terminology, only putative marriages can be declared invalid. In other words, the marriage that was thought to be valid but was not is able to be publicly declared invalid.

Hope that makes sense.


I think this is much of the problem with getting information from Wikipedia - is that the mix of secular terms and religious terms can make one absolutely bonkers.


Canon 1061 §3. An invalid marriage is called putative if at least one party celebrated it in good faith, until both parties become certain of its nullity.


Wouldn't any marriage with factually known defects also be considered a putative marriage?

For example, say we have a Catholic who marries a non-baptized divorced person who has a living spouse and there is no declaration of nullity. As I understand it, that would constitute an attempted marriage and not a valid one. In that it is invalid, that would be called a putative marriage.

Is my understanding correct?


May I ask what happens if a Catholic were to leave a putative marriage (e.g.- get civilly divorced)? Would they be free to re-marry without seeking an annulment since it was an invalid marriage or would they need to seek an annulment for the first marriage anyways? Just curious. :stuck_out_tongue:


No, a putative marriage is one which is presumed valid but isn’t. The marriage of a divorced person whose ex is still alive and whose previous marriage has not been declared null is not presumed valid.


Remember that a putative marriage is one which is presumed valid. It still must be proven invalid.


[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:238097"]
Remember that a putative marriage is one which is presumed valid. It still must be proven invalid.


Oh, okay! Thank you! :thumbsup:


Thanks for the reply. So, if a marriage has an obvious issue, as in the case of a divorced person without a declaration of nullity, it is only an attempt at marriage. A putative marriage is one in which a Catholic believes to be valid, but is or has not been found to be defective. Do I have that straightened out?


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