Validity of Marriage question

I have a cousin who is now in her 50s who has never married. She was engaged in her 20s, but her fiance died of cancer the year they were to be married, and she’s never married since.

Now, she’s dating somebody that I know quite well. That person is divorced. His marriage was one that was contracted civilly in the 1970s. That is, a Judge officiated. That marriage broke up a few years ago and a divorce was finalized last year.

My cousin is a practicing Catholic, and I wonder how that 1970s marriage would be viewed by the Church? Do we regard a wedding contracted in front of a Judge as a valid marriage, such that an annulment would be necessary if this relationship were to go anywhere?

Well, it depends.

You have not given adequate information here. To determine what is needed, more facts would be required including whether or not the person in question was a Catholic or married a Catholic, and if Catholic marrying a non-Catholic whether or not the Catholic had a dispensation from Catholic form, or if the person he married had been married before, etc.

All those details matter.

If you are talking about two non-Catholics, yes generally their civil marriage is valid. That person is not free to date and marry unless they have grounds for and receive a decree of nullity (or in some cases involving unbaptized people what is called a dissolution of the bond via the Pauline or Petrine Privilege).

yes, one key is right. it’s best for her to speak to a priest about it. he can then direct her to the appropriate people who deal with it

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