What Makes a Marriage Valid?


Can somebody point me to canon law or prior threads about what makes a marriage valid in theyes of church?

My sister was born Catholic but has fallen away from the church. She married a non catholic pretty young. They didn’t do it in a church. It was done by some lady at a lighthouse.

Anyways they are thinking about getting a divorce. I would assume the marriage is valid in the church but I’m confused on what it means if she ever wants to get remarried in the church (or outside the church)in the future?

Would the church require an annulment if she wanted to get remarried in the church?


Those who have been baptized Catholic are obliged to follow the form for Catholic marriage outlined in Canon Law. That includes getting married inside a Catholic Church (or else receiving a dispensation to marry elsewhere).

If someone is Catholic and gets married somewhere other than a Church and did not receive a dispensation, their marriage would be invalid. However, in order to marry within the Church, they would still contact their Tribunal office to fill out the paper work for a “lack of form” case. This is a much simpler procedure than a full blown nullity case.


First and foremost, she needs to speak with her own Catholic pastor.

Having said that, it is likely that she will need to submit this form
to the Tribunal of her diocese.

That might not be the same diocese. That’s just an example, but any diocese in the U.S. will have something nearly identical.

Note that I wrote it’s “likely.” It is not a given. That’s why it’s important for her to speak with her pastor in person.


THanks for the replies


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