What is my status (marriage) in the eyes of the church?

I was baptized as an infant in the catholic church. I was subsequently raised in protestant churches thereafter. I was then married to a woman who was previously married in the catholic church but had gotten divorced (unfortunately i do not know at this time if the marriage was ever annulled). At the time of my marriage she was not active in the church, was not receiving sacraments, and we got married on the beach in california by a protestant minister. We have since divorced. My question is: How does the catholic church view my status for receiving sacraments and joining the church? And was my previous marriage valid? Sacramental? Does it need annulment prior to me joining the catholic church??

You need to contact the Catholic parish in which you live, but as you were a baptized Catholic, I will only say that it would appear that your marriage was invalid.



God bless you

IF you were Baptized in the Catholic Church then you are Catholic. You would not be “joining” the Church if you decided to return and complete your sacraments. If you you did not receive the Sacrament of Confirmation as a child then you can ask at the parish where you want to be involved how a Catholic adult goes about completing their Sacraments in that Diocese.

IF your situation is as you have described it, that both you and your wife were Catholics and you were married outside the Church without proper dispensation then as Trishie indicated that marriage was invalid for lack of form. (You only say she was married in the Catholic Church but not whether she herself was Catholic tho it’s implied but your description of her not being active in the church, not receiving Sacraments. In any case only one person needs to be Catholic for the marriage to have to take place in the Catholic Church, or have a proper dispensation.) The process is different from a decree of nullity but does normally go through the Tribunal. Your parish priest is the person you need to discuss this with. He will be well versed in all of it.

In any case a divorced Catholic is as free as any other Catholic to receive the Sacraments, when properly disposed. :slight_smile: Again, just meet with a priest and he will walk you through all this.

Welcome home! :thumbsup:

not enough info, including baptismal status of your ex. your best bet to get an answer outside the general remarks you will get here is to visit the priest and lay out all the facts.

On the face of it your marriage is invalid because she was not free to marry. That is not a problem now and you can join the Church now, but should you ever wish to remarry those facts will have to be formally established.

Welcome Home.

  1. You did not get married in the Church, nor did you receive proper dispensation to marry outside the Church.
  2. Your wife was not free to marry at the time of your wedding.

You are not married in the eyes of the Church.

All marriages are presumed valid until proven otherwise , in the eyes of the church. This requires documentary evidence to be shown first before such a claim can be made. Be careful about such statements. Yes , it certainly looks as though the marriage is invalid but it must be proven first before we can confidently say it.

No, the marriage of a Catholic outside the Church is not presumed valid. In fact, should such a marriage be questioned, the onus would be on the couple to prove they received the proper dispensations, rather than the other way around.

In other countries, presenting a Certificate of Baptism with no notation of marriage is sufficient to show that one is free to marry in the Church, even if there was a previous marriage outside the Church. In North America, most of the time the priests will submit the paperwork to the Marriage Tribunal but even here it depends on the bishop – ours only required the priest to note things in the pre-nuptial investigation.

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