Validation of Civil Marriage?



I am hoping you kind people on this message board can give me some guidance. I will be totally honest with my situation. As of November, my wife and I were married in a civil ceremony, and have been living very happily since then. She is also pregnant, and expecting at the end of May 2008. We really wanted to have a nice Catholic ceremony, but for insurance reasons in having to think about the baby, we had to get married very quickly. Also, I am Catholic and she is Protestant.

Now we are in the position of what to do about getting our marriage validated by the church, which we both really want to do (and raise the baby Catholic). We’ve already attended pre-cana and I’m waiting to hear back from my (super busy) parish priest for his guidance.

I imagine it is, but is it definitely necessary to have the marriage validated BEFORE the baby is born?

Any help is greatly appreciated!


Why would you not want to have the marriage convalidated before the baby’s birth?

If you mean, will it effect the child’s legitmacy if you can’t get to it before the baby is born, no.

If you mean, we want to have a bang-up wing-ding in conjunction with the convalidation, then you need to talk with your priest.


No, it’s not “necessary” so to speak to have it done before the baby’s born, just do it as soon as possible. God sees you’re working on it!



:slight_smile: hi disstressed1 your marriage right now is a valid marriage.because marriage is a sacrement between the two partners.if your wife was to join the church then your marriage would have to been convalidated in the church. and only after she joined the church as in right after she was confirmed. that was my situation till just after christmas. my prayers for your family.


I’m afraid this isn’t true if one of the parties is a Baptized Catholic. Catholic’s are bound to uphold the teachings of the church as they regard marriage. We’re held to a separate standard.

fbl9 were either you or your spouse Catholic at the time you married civilly?


We are not looking for a big-bang wedding or anything like that at all. We want this part to be the very meaningful and religious beginning of our marriage, since we were not able to do it like we had always thought it would be. Life throws curve balls and we are doing everything we can do to the “right” thing.

And yes, I was getting at the question of “is the baby legitimate in the Church’s eyes?” It’s something that has been on both our minds. We’re trying to figure out if convalidation is something we need to do within the next couple months, or can it wait until after the baby is born.

Thank you again.


The OP did say that he was Catholic but his bride isn’t.


:slight_smile: hi beesweet(cool name) i was catholic in name only.this was in 2000 then i decided to become a “bible” christian in 2004 that’s when my wife dragged me back home . what i stated is how my situation was handled in my parish.the bishop had knowledge from my pastor to what was happening and also my pastor sought advice from other priests in our arch wife was not catholic at the time of our marriage now she is though.


It may depend on your Diocese, but precana was not necessary for one to have his/her marriage validated in the parish I belonged to in PA. My husband and I just had ours validated/blessed by the Catholic Church a few years ago–so if you just contact your parish priest, he should be able to coordinate a time, etc…of when he will have available to perform the blessing. It really was pretty simple–we met with him for two meetings, and then one Sunday after mass, he blessed the marriage. (We had to get on his calendar though) Congrats on your civil marriage and new baby on the way!:slight_smile:


it is necessary to keep bugging your priest until he meets with you. if he doesn’t answer his own phone tell the secretary you need to speak to him about an urgent pastoral problem. she does not need anymore info except contact information.

what is necessary is that you convalidate your marriage ASAP so you can return to the sacraments, which must be a trial for you. YOu need all the grace of Jesus and the power of His HOly Spirit from the sacraments to meet the demands of Christian marriage and fatherhood. No it is not required that this be done before the baby’s baptism, but the sooner the better. This is also a good time to take the pre-baptismal class, believe me, it is easier now than after he or she is born.

What is necessary in this diocese is the meeting with the pastor or deacon he appoints for marriage prep, pre-cana in the form of meeting with sponsor couples and convalidation conference, and setting the date. The ceremony can be as simple or fancy as you like, exhcaning vows during or after a regular Mass, or rent the church for your own ceremony. During this time the Catholic party is required to ask for any required dispensation (such as to marry a non-CAtholic), to promise to raise the children Catholic, and the non-Catholic party must be informed of these obligations. Also the Catholic party should make sacramental confession right before the wedding so he can receive communion, and the sacrament of matrimony, worthily.

fbl9 has not given accurate info

please see your pastor, for pastoral guidance you need as a Catholic on your own personal situation, and for the regulations in your diocese.

legitamacy of the child is a matter of civil law and has nothing to do with church law


I noticed that on my own Baptismal certificate, and on my son’s Baptismal cert, they used the maiden name for the mother. My mom and dad had a full blown Catholic wedding more than a year before my older was born (in other words, there was no question of “legitimacy”). In my son’s case, my husband and I had our civil marriage convalidated the same day of my son’s baptism. We exchanged our vows just before the Baptism took place (that was such a beautiful day!). I thought that might be interesting for you to know, not to mention I wanted to warn you not to think anything of it when you receive the Baptismal cert for your baby that they might use your wife’s maiden name.

Boy howdy is that the truth!! It’s SO much easier before baby is born! We took our pre-Baptism class about a month before our son was born. We did not have a valid marriage at the time either, so don’t fret yourself about all that. We arranged a separate private meeting with my priest to discuss our marriage and fill out all the paperwork that needed to be sent to the Bishop. I won’t soon forget the look of relief on his face when we told him neither one of us had been married before, I think he was super glad to not have to explain and deal with an annulment process!

So you had your marriage convalidated right after your wife was confirmed a Catholic? That’s beautiful!


this is standard practice for sacramental records.
bear in mind not every country has the custom of the married woman changing her name.


The mother’s maiden name is always entered in the baptismal record. As much as anything else that helps keep family lines straight. Remember, in some jurisdictions a woman who wants to adopt her husband’s surname has to legally change her name to his and that alters her birth certificate.

When I do up a baptismal certificate I have no idea from reading the register whether the parents were married or not – unless the priest made a point of entering the information and most don’t. Today, when babies are given mom’s surname or dad’s surname or both, you can’t read into what’s on the baptismal or birth certificate.


Getting your marriage blessed is not so much about the baby being legitimate or not it is about you living in sin. You seem a bit too relaxed about this. You are willing to risk a couple of months being in a state of sin unable to recieve communion or confession. Why would you risk that? You need to get that marriage brought into the church and get yourself to confession asap.

The only problem you might have as far as the baby is concerned is because you are not married in the eyes of the church that might delay the baptism until you take care of it.

You really do want to talk to the Priest ASAP. If he’s been busy he’s about to get even busier now that it’s Lent starting tomorrow.Be persistent.

Prayers you get this taken care of immediately.


maybe someone can help me out here as well. I’m in the RCIA and have been with the same girl now for 4 years, but we’re living together. We’re planning on having a civil marriage this week or next week. Does the Church condone this?

From what I’ve been told living together out of wedlock is considered fornication, and I’d rather not have to go to confession weekly to receive the Eucharist. I’d rather do things the right way since I’m going down the path of conversion and live up to what I agreed to.
My fiance is a baptized Christian and I will be joining the Church next month. Our plan, if we can do it, is to have the civil marriage and after my baptism/confirmation take our vows again (so that the Church would recognize it)… is this possible and if so, how hard is it going to be for me? We also have a child together, and she has no issues about raising him Catholic as she will be registering for RCIA next year.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.


you need to visit your priest today and get his pastoral and practical help for your situation. can’t be done here long distance. You can do this, thousands of couples work through this successfully every year and are able to return to the fullness of the sacraments through the great sacrament of matrimony. It is insanity to attempt marriage and parenthood with all its challenges, without the grace of Christ in the sacraments. Welcome HOme to both of you.


Okay, I have an update. Father said he’d allow the civil marriage as I’m not actually ‘in’ the Church yet. She is baptized (as previously stated) and after my baptism we can have our marriage convalidated in the Church. So, we went ahead 2 days ago and tied the knot, so that’s one less thing to stress over… now if i could just figure out my universal remote…



Canon law does speak to legitimacy under Catholic law. A child born in an invalid marriage is considered illegitimate. Convalidation makes an illegitimate child legitimate.

In older codes of canon law, illegitimacy was an impediment to the priesthood and various other offices in the Church. Under the new code, there aren’t any prohibitions or restrictions distinguishing legitimate and illegitimate children. Practically speaking, your marital status will not have a canonical impact on your child.

So, follow up with your priest and pursue convalidation, but don’t be worried about the impact on your child. There isnt’ one. The child can be baptized, etc, even if your marriage is still in the process of being convalidated.

Can. 1137 The children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate.

Can. 1138 §1. The father is he whom a lawful marriage indicates unless clear evidence proves the contrary.

§2. Children born at least 180 days after the day when the marriage was celebrated or within 300 days from the day of the dissolution of conjugal life are presumed to be legitimate.

Can. 1139 Illegitimate children are legitimated by the subsequent valid or putative marriage of their parents or by a rescript of the Holy See.

Can. 1140 As regards canonical effects, legitimated children are equal in all things to legitimate ones unless the law has expressly provided otherwise.


[quote="cbsurfrat, post:17, topic:100290"]
Okay, I have an update. Father said he'd allow the civil marriage as I'm not actually 'in' the Church yet. She is baptized (as previously stated) and after my baptism we can have our marriage convalidated in the Church. So, we went ahead 2 days ago and tied the knot, so that's one less thing to stress over... now if i could just figure out my universal remote....


If you are both free to marry, neither of you is Catholic, and you marry civilly, your marriage is valid. There is nothing to convalidate when you become a Catholic. A civil marriage between non-Catholics who are otherwise free to marry is VALID. Your baptism will make your marriage a sacrament.

If you want to receive a nuptial blessing from the priest that would be appropriate.

But, convalidation is NOT something that would be done. Convalidation makes an invalid marriage valid through the exchange of consent in the Catholic form. Your marriage will be valid the moment you enter into it.

So, maybe your priest misunderstood something.


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