Validation question


In 2000, my wife and I were discreetly (her parents wanted us to wait until my enlistment was up) married at a California county court house by a Justice of the Peace when I was in the military. Fast forward three years, I was discharged from the military after honorable service.

In 2003, we sought a non-denominational minister to marry us in the same college chapel where her mom & sister were married. In order to maintain appearances, we procured an Ohio marriage license and were married before said minister.

At the time of both marriages, my wife was not a baptized Christian, no was I practicing my Lutheran faith. She was later baptized in 2012.

Fast forward to today, we are both in RCIA at a local parish. And in our paperwork, we only documented the 2000 wedding date.

Do we need to go down that road of disclosing both dates? Or are both marriages invalid anyway? We were told we need to have our marriage made valid in the Church anyway.


Disclose EVERYTHING! Let it all be known so it can ALL be dealt with completely.


If you were both free to marry (no impediments like prior marriages) and if neither of you were baptized Catholic, your first wedding is recognized as valid.

The Church would maybe see your second wedding as a renewal? In reality, the Church does not permit second weddings for a married couple, but, you were not Catholic and did not know that.

I’m guessing your case will be just like mine, no need for validation because you validly married as non-Catholics.


You should mention both ceremonies, but the civil marriage is almost certainly valid for a baptized Lutheran and an unbaptized person. Your marriage became sacramental when your wife was baptized.


As the others have stated, the marriage appears valid and no Catholic form of (insert whatever someone tells you here) is necessary. However, you might also want to consult an attorney if you haven’t already; I would be concerned that you’ve violated a civil law by having two marriages on record (but maybe not…).


Common Law bigamy, and I presume statutory where it has been enacted, consisted of marrying another person while already married.

Now, a state could criminalize a second marriage to the same person, but I can’t imagine the circumstances that would lead to this. These things tend to get codified for a reason, not as a “what if”.

which is why shortly after I got to Iowa, they discovered to their horror that they had no crime to apply when a mortician, uhh, took a romantic interest in corpses :scream::scream::scream:

hawk, esq.


Thanks for the info. I guess I wasn’t thinking in terms of crime committed so much as just creating unnecessary legal complications for themselves by having two marriages certified in two different states with that kind of time span. Maybe there’s none.


I would disclose both.

As a technical matter, I don’t think your Ohio marriage license is valid because you were already issued a marriage license in California.


I would be shocked to find that the second had any legal status other than “void” . . .


Yes, make an appointment and speak with the priest at your parish.

Your current civil union can be convalidated in close proximity to your entry into the Catholic Church at Easter time.

Why would you not have just renewed your vows or something like that at the Ohio college chapel? Makes no sense to get a license to marry someone you are already legally married to.

A Church Tribunal always wants to know about every attempt at marriage - give the details to the priest, he will handle the rest.

Praying for you both as you seek the Barque of Peter,
Deacon Christopher


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