If a catholic decides to marry a non-catholic in a civl ceremony, then divorces the non catholic, what is the catholic supposed to do if he wants to re-marry again? Is an annulment required even though the wedding was a civil ceremony? Was the original wedding even valid to begin with? What if children are involved?
As I understand it… even though the marriage was not valid, the couple who wants to get married within the church should still discuss it with the pastor. It is a shorter annullment process, because it is declared null due to lack of form, however it will still need to be resolved prior to remarrying.
The best place to start is with the Code of Canon Law. It will lay out what the legal requirements for marriage in the Church are.
It can, and usually does, get very complicated.
For example, my husband & I, both confirmed catholics, were not married in the church (the reasons do not matter for this discussion, and that fact has been remidied), but also lacked the “dispensation” for not being married in the Church, so even though the state considered us married, the Church, in fact, did not.
Much of our issue was that we were not told of certain requirements, and actually had our rights under canon law violated not by one, but by 2 priests at 2 different parishes.
So start with Canon Law, then if there are questions after that, the best person to talk with would be a priest or deacon.
“Marriage enjoys the favor of the law.” In other words, if you get married (Catholic, non-Catholic, civil, etc), the Church assumes that you are married. Though a civil marriage is not a sacramental marriage, it is what is termed a good and natural marriage.
If you wish to marry in the Catholic Church and have any prior marriage bond, you will need to seek a decree of nullity, aka annulment. Check with your local parish (or wherever you are registered as a parishoner) to get more details about what to do.
This is fairly complex subject. You may receive some good answers here, but only a Tribunal can ultimately determine your request for a Decree of Nullity. Seriously, start talking with someone in your parish to help you get started on this. Some cases are cut and dry, and some can be quite arduous. You can’t go it alone.
Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to 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.
Can. 1059 Even if only one party is Catholic, the marriage of Catholics is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the same marriage.
This is called Defect of Form. It must be certified by the Tribunal, but is a fairly quick process.
Can. 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.
Any children are considered legitimate. Further, the parties to the invalid marriage are morally responsible for the support and care of these children.
These are general principles. Any particular case will depend on details which should discussed with a priest and not discussed on-line.
Thanks for clarification, Joe!