My fiance became a Christian (Protestant) and was baptized about three years ago. Prior to his baptism, he was married and divorced twice. Does he need to seek annulments for those marriages? If he does, what are my options if he refuses to do so because he does not accept that the Catholic Church has any authority over his previous marriages?
Because marriage possesses the favor of law, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven (Can. 1060). Thus, before a marriage is celebrated, the marriage tribunal would need to assess the status of your fiancé’s past two marriages to establish that he is not bound by those marriages (Canon 1066, 1085 §2). Until that time, your fiancé is considered a married man.
Can. 1060 Marriage possesses the favor of law; therefore, in a case of doubt, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven.
Can. 1066 Before a marriage is celebrated, it must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration.
Can. 1085 §2. Even if the prior marriage is invalid or dissolved for any reason, it is not on that account permitted to contract another before the nullity or dissolution of the prior marriage is established legitimately and certainly.
To help your fiancé understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and annulments, I recommend the following:
Books and CD:
Annulments and the Catholic Church By Edward Peters
The Catholic Church on Sex, Marriage and Divorce (CD)
by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
The Good News on Sex and Marriage
By Christopher West
(This book offers readers an easily readable, down-to-earth, and stimulating account of the reasons why the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage is true, and because it is true, ‘good news’ for people today).
A Basic Theology of Marriage By Christopher West (a must-read)
I’m sure your fiancé’s love for you will lead him to the proper conclusion. After all, he’s marrying a Catholic who is bound to show Christian obedience to the teaching authority of the Magisterium concerning faith and morals (Can. 212 §1,
Lumen Gentium 12
I will pray with you that God will give him the grace to understand and believe. If he refuses to accept the Church’s authority on this issue, then it should be a “red flag” to you.
Dear Catholic spouses, there can be no true happiness in your lives unless God is very much a part of your marriage covenant. To expect to find happiness in sin is to look for good in evil. Sin is a bane to married life, as it is to all life. Like a cancer, it destroys everything that is good and joyful in your marriage relationship.”