Question

I am a protestant and I was married in 2003 to another protestant. We were divorced in 2005. I am newly engaged to a Catholic and we would like to get married in a Catholic church. I have done a lot of research and I am getting mixed answers on this-----Do I need to get an annulment?

I thought I would not have to because we were protestant and not married in a church…we were married at my grandfathers house, by a Baptist minister. Please advise…

Thank you!!

Yes you would. The Church views your previous marriage as valid unless proven otherwise, which is the purpose of getting an annulment.

Why does it take so long? I have very VALID reasons for not being married to him anymore. (Adultery–with the result of a child, Drugs and alcohol–he is an addict, Sickness–life-threatening, Numerous jail time, etc…)

I don’t know the answer to the question of whether you need an annulment, but you should be aware that “good grounds for a divorce” do not amount to a basis for an annulment. An annulment is a determination that the marriage was never valid in the first place, not that it subsequently became untenable.

Anyway, shouldn’t your potential spouse be getting this information from his or her pastor?

You are still married to your wife in the eyes of the Church.

Yes. You would need to submit your marriage to the tribunal to determine nullity or validity.

You do not mention the baptismal status of either yourself or your spouse. That does have bearing on the avenues open to you. The Pauline or Petrine privilege may also be available if unbaptized.

You should not be “engaged” to anyone until you are declared free to marry. You might be setting up your fiancee for a terrible dissapointment should your marriage be found valid. You could not marry as long as your spouse is alive.

Only Catholics are bound by the Catholic form of marriage. You were under no obligation to observe this form.

It is a common misunderstanding.

Two non-Catholics marry validly when they exchange vows in a religious or civil ceremony providing there are no divine law impediments (like a previous marriage, close kinship, etc).

This chart may be useful to you:

diocs.org/Portals/1/Documents/Tribunal/Decision_matrix.pdf

If you wish to be married in the Catholic Church, you BOTH need to make an appointment with the priest AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. There is a least a six month waiting period, plus marriage instruction that you will BOTH have to complete before the ceremony. The priest will also be able to advise you on any annulment procedures and start the paperwork, if needed.

We have met with a priest and he thought I would need an annulment, but I have spoken to someone who is on the counsel for annulments (I may be saying that wrong) and he said I would not need an annulment. I also have done research and some books seem to say I don’t need one and some say I do. I just want to know for sure…

Because, as with all things, resources are limited. There are many cases that have to be reviewed thoroughly and individually. These things take time. Gathering testimony takes time.

You may indeed have valid reasons for no longer living under the same roof, and divorce might be a remedy for the division of property and preservation of your rights and safety of children, etc, but it in no way dissolves the marriage bond.

Divorcing does not mean you can remarry.

None of these things is grounds for nullity.

I don’t think you really understand what nullity is.

I can suggest the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. Please obtain a copy and read it through.

Your marriage situation needs to be investigated in detail.

I don’t know who this person is he referred you to. It should be the priest handling things.

Unless there is additional information not provided in your OP, you are not currently free to marry.

See the chart link posted in my other post.

Those are grounds for separation; they are not proof (nor evidence, even) that the marriage was invalid.

A valid marriage is not dissoluble.

Between two baptized people (sacrament) your statement is correct.

A valid natural marriage (at least one unbaptized) can be dissolved under the Pauline or Petrine privilege under certain circumstances.

Ok, so then what exactly constitutes a ‘valid marriage’?

Well, I know for sure I was baptized…I am not entirely certain if my ex-husband was. So if he wasn’t, I would be able to file for the Petrine principle. How long does that usually take? It is harder than an annulment or easier?

I don’t think it’s a quick process but at least it’s a solution if your marriage was valid.

In order to contract a valid marriage both parties

  1. have to be free to marry (not closely related, no previous valid marriage that wasn’t ended by death),
  2. able to have sex
  3. be freely consenting (not forced to marry)
  4. intend that it is until death
  5. intend to be faithful
  6. intend to have children (if they can)

For non Catholics as long as all those are present, the couple can have a religious or civil marriage.

If one or both are Catholic, all those must be present and the couple must marry in Church or get a dispensation to marry elsewhere.

In your OP you say that you and your husband were protestants. From that it is reasonable to assume you may have been baptised. It is more than likely that these baptisms were valid. I may assume you and your former spouse consummated your marriage.

If all these assumptions are true then your marriage would have been a ratified and consummated valid marriage.

This means you would need to go through the formal process of applying to a tribunal to investigate the validity of your marriage. A civil dissolution is normally granted based on facts after the marriage. A Church tribunal grants a decree of nullity based on facts before the marriage. Therefore, a civil dissolution doesn’t mean a tribunal would find your marriage invalid.

The Petrine Privilege would only apply in certain prescribed conditions. I believe it is a protracted process as the decision has to be made by the Holy Father himself.

If he was not baptized you may be able to ask for the Petrine Privilege. It is not the same as a decree of nullity. It dissolves a natural marriage.

The Petrine Privilege, being “Petrine” means reserved to the Pope. So, it goes to Rome. I do not know how long it takes.

There are people on this site who have received a dissolution of the bond via the Petrine Prilivege, so it does happen.

The priest can assist you in deciding which avenue is best to pursue.

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