Divorce and Remarriage Questions

I am dating a non-Catholic girl - who I am considering one day marrying. She has been married twice before. Her first marriage was in the Catholic Church and lasted a year before ending in divorce. She never became a Catholic herself, but her first husband was. That was about twenty years ago. The second marriage lasted four years and the wedding was outside the Catholic Church. Neither she or her second husband were Catholic. In fact, she doesn’t even know if the marriage was legal because they were married out of the country. She has been single now for over 12 years.

I, on the other hand, am praying about returning to the Catholic Church in the near future. I have been away for almost thirty years. I, too, was married twice before, and both marriages were outside the Catholic Church, nor were they blessed by the Catholic Church. I believe I am eligible to remarry because of a Lack of Form.

One last concern:
my girlfriend is open to investigating Catholicism with me and may eventually convert. If she converts before we marry, will that change her or my status to being able to have the freedom to marry one another? I know this is an odd question. But lets say she is eligible to remarry either from an annulment or lack of form as a non-catholic, but now that she becomes a Catholic, does that make it more difficult to get an annulment being that she was married in the Catholic Church as a non-Catholic?

Will my non-Catholic girlfriend need to get an annulment from her first marriage? She does not know the whereabouts or marital status of her first husband.Will I have to refrain from receiving communion if I marry her without her being granted an annulment or Lack of Form?

She is not free to marry at this point. Her first marriage is valid until/unless there are grounds for a decree of nullity. Both of her previous marriages will have to be examined.

Her conversion, before, during, or after the nullity process will not impact her nullity case. It is not relevant to whether or not she entered into marriage validly.

You do have “lack of form” cases, and that is an adminstrative paperwork process.

Please do not even consider marrying invalidly yet again.

I urge you to go talk to your local pastor and discuss reconciling with the Church and resuming the sacraments. Then you and she should meet with the priest regarding your prior marriages. Take things one step at a time.

Yes, please go talk with the pastor at the local Catholic Church. He will be the best one to advise you. Even with what you have written, none of us have all the facts so we can’t tell you too much more than what 1ke posted . . . .

except for one caveat. You asked “Will I have to refrain from receiving communion . . .?” And you mentioned you have been married twice before . . .
Again, not knowing all the particulars, it is likely based on what you wrote that yes, you would have to refrain from receiving Christ until your own situation is made regular. Perhaps your marriages weren’t valid - I don’t know. Perhaps they were. As part of the process of coming back to the Church, your pastor can guide you on how to proceed about your marriages and guide you through the process of Reconciliation so that you can receive the Blessed Sacrament in a state of grace.

I’ll add you to my prayer list so that your journey Home to the Church is a fabulous one!

I just want to add that taking things one step at a time is so worth it. I’m no expert, but I think your situation can be straightened out and you will be so glad if you make the effort. It will take time.

Dear 1ke,
Thank you for your advice and knowledge. I have already begun meeting with the senior priest at my local parish. I will pursue this further with him.

Dear Suslar,
Thank you for your prayers. I am getting closer and closer to making a statement of faith and making a confession.


Can anyone comment on whether a lack of form case is likely to be cheaper than another sort of annulment. My diocese charges $1000.00 for an annulment! Yikes!

You cannot be denied a review of your case if you do not have the means to pay. The money is not “for an annulment” per se . . .meaning, it’s not like you pay money and have a guaranteed judgment. Instead, the money goes toward paying a small part of the salaries of all of the canon lawyers involved in addition to other office and maintenance fees (copying and mailing forms, etc). If money is an issue, you should let your Field Advocate know right away so he or she can help you make a payment plan or work out a reduced or 0 fee.

I’ve continued to research this subject because it seems at face value, my girlfriend’s first marriage, would definitely be considered valid. They divorced over irreconcilable differences after one year. Reading the official grounds for nullity, she didn’t have any grounds, nor did he. What if it is discovered that the man, twenty years later, is happily remarried with kids? There would be no possible reconciliation for my girlfriend. Does the church look at this and say “too bad” to my girlfriend and that she needs to remain unmarried for the rest of her life, at least in the Catholic Church?

That would then force me to either end the relationship with someone I am deeply in love with and believe God has blessed me with; or, marry her outside the Catholic Church, leaving me - once again - with an invalid marriage. Seems kind of extreme to me…just saying!

Am I assuming the worst here or is there any hope that she could be granted an annulment despite not having grounds for nullity?

I didn’t know how else to put it. I guess it’s a fee. I know I’ve got a defect of form case; I just hoped that a paperwork process would be cheaper. I’d really like to have my present marriage convalidated.

There could be grounds that become clear as testimony is presented from witnesses - that’s what the process is for. Perhaps they were very young and too immature to know what they were doing - that is grounds.

Rather than spilling all the details out here to strangers, it is best to continue what you are doing under the guidance of your very competent priest.

This might sound silly and I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but the reason the Church teaches that those who are divorced but do not have a Declaration of Nullity are not free to date is because the Church does consider the marriage valid unless/until proved otherwise so they don’t want us getting into situations where one party might not be free to marry despite our having fallen in love. I know not everyone “gets” this - or even agrees with it but there is a lot of sense behind the teaching. I didn’t date until after the Declaration was granted and I refuse to date anyone who is divorced but doesn’t have theirs.

Every diocese is different with their fees
But, you can get the ball rolling by talking to your pastor
Congratulations on working toward making things right!

The OP is not currently married. If he does not get civilly married again, he has no impediment to the Eucharist right now after going to confession.

No one is refused based on inability to pay. The diocese will have a sliding scale, and if the OP truly cannot pay anthing, then he will not have to.

The person who helps her with the process will help her determine if she has valid grounds for the case to proceed.

If her marriage truly was valid, and you are both seeking to truly follow God, then it is up to both of you to be mature enough to honor that what God has joined no man must separate. To live with her in a civil marriage would be adultery.

Sounds like they were married very briefly and perhaps were also very young? Less than one year of marriage does not seem to indicate they truly understood what they were doing. But that is not for me to say.

This is why I say take it a step at a time. Your girlfriend has not even met with anyone and you are already stressed over her marriage being found valid.