Questions regarding marriage

Hi everyone!

I have a couple of questions that I am hoping someone could answer.

Question #1
When I was 20, my ex-husband and I had a civil wedding ceremony (he is an atheist), in MD. I am the first to admit that we got married for all the wrong reasons: 1) his mother had just passed away and it was her last wish, 2) he had recently joined the military and it provided stability and 3) we wanted to be able to live together on base. The only right reason (aside from the fact that I really did love him) was that it would provide our son with a united family…but that still wasn’t a great reason to do it. However, for whatever reason, we did it.

After some training and a tour in Korea (he went solo - bad, bad idea), we finally were able to live together as a family, overseas. For the two years we were overseas (when he wasn’t on trainings or deployments, he was cheating and developing a problem with alcohol…additionally, abuse (physical, mental and verbal) became a bigger issue. He had always been verbally abusive, but it escalated after a deployment. In our home, you could never say “God”…he hit my son, once, for saying it. I never said anything to anybody out of fear but was given a chance to come home for a visit. He hit me in front of his father and our son…I made the decision to leave.

I digressed a bit from my question, but felt some background was needed. Here’s my question…I petitioned for and was granted a divorce (which was more celebrated than the wedding). I am now with a wonderful man who, like me, is Catholic. We talk about marriage ALL the time. Do I need to do anything special regarding my first marriage…or am I good to proceed with a Catholic wedding when the time is right?

Question #2
Like I mentioned above, my boyfriend and I talk about marriage pretty frequently. My family has been friends with a Catholic priest, who currently lives in TN, for longer than I have been alive. When we get married, we really want him to officiate our wedding. He is practically family, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to be united with the love of my life.

How difficult would it be to have him be our officiant? What would need to be done?

This leads me to my 3rd question…

Question #3
We would love to be able to get married outside (although, it we have to get married in the actual church, we would be fine with that too - gorgeous church). Would it be possible to do that…and would an out-of-state priest make it easier to have an outdoor wedding.

Sorry for the wordiness, but these are questions I have had for a long time and this is the first time I have found a site like this.

Thank you in advance!:slight_smile:

There are 2 ways Either marriage dispensation or Radical sanation.

Check out this web which gives more info.

The radical sanation of an invalid marriage – i.e., its convalidation by competent authority without the giving of new matrimonial consent (c. 1161, §1) – may be a pastorally beneficial service to a couple when the following circumstances come together:

  1. A simple convalidation is impossible because:

a. one party refuses to give new consent; or

b. there is a strong possibility that a convalidation would be defective – that is, the consent manifested by one or both parties would be defective or lacking; and/or c. scandal might be caused to a community, or the consciences of the couple would be seriously disturbed, were an invalidating impediment revealed and new consent asked for.


  1. Their marriage is found to be invalid by reason of:

a. lack of canonical form; or

b. lack of proper delegation of the minister’s faculties; and/or

c. an undispensed impediment (e.g., disparity of worship, consanguinity, etc.).

Conditions: In considering and preparing for a radical sanation, please note the following:

  1. At least one of the parties in the marriage to be sanated must be Catholic.

  2. The submitting priest, deacon, or pastoral minister must ascertain that:

a. Simple convalidation of the marriage is impossible or pastorally ill-advised.

b. Each of the parties originally gave true and efficacious matrimonial consent which perdures. (If there is reason to suspect that the original consent was defective – e.g., an intention against children – a sanation is not possible.)

c. It is probable that the parties intend to persevere in conjugal life.


  1. Documentation: The documents customary for Catholic marriage should be collected and kept on file in the parish insofar as this is possible: i.e., baptismal certificate(s), letters of freedom, prenuptial investigation, permission for mixed marriage with signed promises, etc.

  2. Petition(s): The petition for radical sanation is submitted to the Archbishop through the Office of the Vicar for Canonical Services. If there is an undispensed impediment of disparity of worship, please submit the petition for this dispensation together with the petition for sanation, including promises signed by at least the Catholic party.

  3. Recording: If granted, the rescript will be returned to the submitting minister, who is responsible to see that the sanation is duly noted in the parish’s marriage register (or, if it is a sanation of a Catholic marriage, in the register of the parish where the marriage was originally recorded), and in the baptismal register(s) of the Catholic party(ies).

  4. Notification: When the petition is granted, the submitting minister will normally inform the Catholic party(ies), who is/are then free to return to the Sacraments. In certain cases, however, serious reason may exist for not advising the parties of the sanation. Examples of such cases are: a minister’s lack of proper delegation, or discovery of an undispensed impediment. If neither party is to be informed of the sanation, this is to be noted on the rescript (by checking the box at the very bottom of the petition form).

  5. Filing and copy: The original rescript should be filed in the parish marriage archives. Upon proper recording of the sanation in the marriage and baptismal registers, a copy of the rescript should be returned to the Office of the Vicar for Canonical Services.

You may need to get a lack of form decree of nullity depending on the diocese you are in now that is assuming you were baptized Catholic at the time of your first marriage.

As far as getting married out doors you will need to get dispensation from your Bishop to do this but most likely it will not be granted as it goes against the idea of what you are doing and what the wedding is. The only times they usually do this for a Catholic wedding between two Catholic parties is when there are no Churches available due to size fo the wedding, natural disaster, etc.

Think about it, marriage is a Sacrament - would you witness an Ordination at a beach? You will cover all of this at marriage prep though. Pax,

some of the replies are not appropos your situation

you need to see your priest, first for pastoral counsel on your current living situation and next for advice on what steps need to be taken re your previous marriage. there is not enough info to answer here. at the least you need to go through a formal process to have the first marriage declared null due to lack of form. You don’t say your partner’s marital status and that obviously may be an issue as well. Who officiates and where is putting the cart before the horse. For Catholics matrimony is a sacrament and conducted in church, in the sacred space, unless there is some compelling overriding reason, and permission to be married elsewhere is not likely to be granted, but that is the last of your concerns. Your pastor can also tell you how to proceed if you would like another priest to officiate. Prayers that your situation will resolve so you can raise your children in peace, love and comfort and in a home blessed by Christ’s sacramental presence in your marriage. Immense blessings await you in seeing this through.

First I would like to say how sorry I was to hear about the sad situation of your first marriage.

You do not state whether you are a Catholic. If at the time of your first marriage your were a Catholic but you were not granted dispensation from canonical form then you can apply to a diocesan tribunal for a decree of nullity on those grounds. Please do this through your parish priest.

If you were a Catholic at the time of your first marriage and you were granted dispensation from canonical form then you will not be able to apply for a decree of nullity on the grounds of lack of canonical form. You need to discuss this with your parish priest.

It is important to remember, and I am sure that your parish priest will tell you this, your former husband’s abuse may have given you cause for a civil divorce; they will not provide you with grounds for an annulment. The annulment process looks at the validity of the marriage at the time of the marriage not events that happened after.

You then also have to consider the marital status of your boyfriend. Has he been married before? If yes, he’ll need a civil divorce and then he too will have to go through an annulment process. If he’s never been married then obviously he won’t need to go through these processes.

At this point I would like to dispel a myth regarding annulment. Just because you apply for one does not mean one is granted.

Jumping forward to the future regarding the family-friend priest I can only comment on what usually happens here in England where I live. Normally, your marriage is witnessed by your proper parish priest. If you want another priest to celebrate the wedding you apply to your proper parish priest for his permission.

You need to talk to your priest. Since you were married outside the Church, this is a paperwork procedure during your marriage preparation. You’ll both sacramental records, and you will also provide your marriage and divorce paperwork. (This assumes when you say you went and got married civilly you did not have any permission from the Church to do so).

This is not dificult at all. You, again, need to arrange it with your priest who prepares you for marriage. You just need to make sure there isn’t anything special you need to do regarding the legality of the wedding when someone from out of state officiates. In some states, you have to be registered with the state to perform weddings. You could always have the priest celebrate the Mass and have a local priest or deacon officiate the vows if that becomes an issue. That’s what we did-- we had a family friend priest celebrate the Mass but my deacon did the vows and turned in all the marriage license paperwork to the county clerk.

I suggest you reconsider the outdoor wedding idea. The proper place to celebrate the Sacraments is in a Catholic Church. The outdoor wedding is a secular idea-- all about the bride and the backdrop, not about the marriage itself. Please consider that the focus of your marriage is Christ and Christ is present in the Tabernacle. The proper place for the celebration of Mass is in the parish church.

Regarding whether or not it’s possible, it requires permission from your bishop. Most bishops do not grant this permission.

And, no having an out-of-state priest will not make having an outdoor wedding ‘easier’ as your bishop must still give permission. Again, unlikely.

Neither of these things has anything to do with the OP’s question.

Thanks everyone! There is some great advice in here. As far as my Catholic standing goes, I was baptized shortly after birth by my biological mother and once I was adopted, my parents did some sort of reaffirmation ceremony (so, perhaps I am doubly blessed…LOL).

My boyfriend was baptized as a baby as well. He has never been married…so he is free and clear. We wouldn’t mind be married in the church…especially since our local parish church is gorgeous. There is the old building and a new building…the older one is stunning and full of history.

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