Post # 1
I was previously married (for a period of 2 months + a 6 month divorce process) outside of the Catholic church (small outside family ceremony in Texas). The whole thing was a mistake 2 years back that I made and wish I could take back, but obviously…can not.
I am now planning to get married to someone else who is Catholic and that being the case, his family wants us to get married in the Catholic church (in Illinois). His family does not know (and would not be approving) of my previous 2 month marriage.
I’ve recently been introduced to the annulment process in the Catholic Church that you must go through if you’ve been married before and needless to say, am a bit freaked out by the whole thing.
I discussed this with my fiance and my question is this…How does the Catholic Church know if you’ve been previously married? When I brought it up, he asked if there is anyway that we could skip over this process (possibly by saying that I’ve never been married)…
I know we want to start things off the right way and I know that this isn’t ideal…but any advice that can be offered…or knowledge of the process would be greatly appreciated…
Post # 3
I don’t think it would be good to lie to the Catholic church. You don’t want to start your marriage off on the wrong foot. They are very strict about this annulment thing, and I’m pretty sure they would find out if you didn’t tell them. If you aren’t ready to get annuled then you shouldn’t get married in the Catholic church. I always think annulment is a weird thing – they basically make you say that you never were married to that person and that the marriage didn’t exist. I know a lot of people that won’t get married in the Catholic church again because they still want to say that their first marriage was real and they won’t deny that it ever happened.
I think the church will know about your previous marriage because it might say on your marriage license that they have to sign. I know when we went to apply for our license there was a spot you had to check if you were previously divorced. The church probably sees that then when they fill out the license.
Post # 4
Could you possibly use the excuse that you feel your marriage wasn’t legal in the eyes of God since it didn’t take place in the Catholic church as grounds for an annulment? Good luck! It sounds like a tricky spot to be in, but I agree that you shouldn’t lie because they would find out most likely.
Post # 5
Just so you know too…the annulment process is quite lengthy. My ex was the one who wanted it and pretty much handeled it on his own but it was over a year in total.
Post # 6
The Catholic church doesn’t usually recognize marriages performed outside the church, yes?
Post # 7
I wouldn’t lie because basically that would make your new marriage null and void. If it is important that you get married in the Catholic church then it is necessary to take the steps of an annullment. However, you may want to check to see if it is necessary since you weren’t married the first time in the Church.
Post # 8
Well, for starters, they would know because when the priest went to sign your marriage license, he would see that it said you were on your second marriage. Lying to the priest is never a good idea. If you’re Catholic and you were not married in accordance with the rules of the Church, you can probably get an annulment by form, which is a much shorter process. The rules of the Church in regards to marriage really just apply to members (i.e. if you just had a legal marriage and one/both of you is Catholic, it’s not valid. If neither of you are, it is). If not, it can be a very, very long process.
Post # 9
If you are not Catholic, then at the time you were not bound by Canon Law. So while marrying outside of the Catholic Church for a Catholic is automatically invalid, it is not for non-Catholics.
Considering that you were married for only two months, I would say you’d have a good argument that the marriage was not valid. For a valid marriage to take place, true matrimonial consent must be given by both individuals. If you don’t truly agree to be married, you’re not in fact marrying each other. What the marriage tribunal does is look into whether that consent had been given or not, or whether either of you were not free to give that consent or eligible to give that consent.
What you’ll want to do is be honest with the priest about your situation. The Church does not appreciate people who try to deceive them. My own priest won’t even let us give them sacramental records that are older than 6 months old because he wants them to be really up to date. He said there was a situation where a man tried to avoid going through the process by denying that he had been Catholic. Instead, he went through the RCIA process and was rebaptized, thus setting up a new set of records that did not include his previous marriage. Eventually the records were connected together.
The reason for this process is because the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is indissoluble. A person is not free to remarry during the lifetime of their spouse. Even if they have a valid reason to separate and to civilly divorce (some sort of emotional, physical or finacial abuse), the couple is still considered married in the eyes of the Church. Nothing can unbind before they die. To marry another would be to commit the sin of polygamy. However, the Church acknowledges that many do not validly enter into marriage and are thus still free to marry. This is why we have the annullment process. Its also why the Church is so anal right now about preparing people for marriage. The majority of of annullments that go through the marriage tribunal are confirmed as being invalid marriages which means that the Church has been neglecting its duty to adequately prepare couples for giving matrimonial consent and making sure that the couple is truly seeking to be married or if their vision and understanding of what the commitment entails is very much lacking.
Post # 10
Twoangels’s is correct. The nutshell version of what she said is that you still have to get an annulment if you want to get married to this guy in the Catholic church. But of course you knew that :).
I would also assume that they would know you had been previously married because when you apply for a marriage license with the county or state, you have to include any divorce decrees or death certificates in order to get the license. Then the priest has to sign the license. So really to lie to the priest you would have to commit fraud against the state. Probably not a good idea :).
I know you’re really worrying about this, but please don’t try to game the system. You have nothing to worry about! It is all going to work out fine. This happens to thousands of people. I think one of the most important things now is to find a priest that you have a good rapport with. He will help you navigate this. Good luck!
Post # 11
If you were married outside the Catholic Church, in a setting that was not Christian, then the marriage would be seen as invalid in the eyes of the Church. As such, your divorce papers should suffice.
I would not recommend that you lie, due to the fact that… you can lie to man, but in the end, God knows the Truth. As such, lying just to get married will invalidate the marraige in God’s eyes anyhow.
Yes, the annulment process is quite lengthy and could run you a year or more. But when it comes down to it, you mentioned that you want to “start things off right”. So if this is TRULY the case, then I would recommend starting the annulment process, then once you get it, then start planning the wedding.
I would, however, highly recommend speaking to a Priest, possibly the ones in Illinois.
Post # 12
I am currently going through a similar situation. I will be getting married Nov 7, 09 My fiance was married in a civil ceremony, and below is the process we had to go through. Of course every church and preist interpret catholic law differently.
If you were not previously married in the Catholic Church then your civil ceremony is considered invalid. However, you would have to tell the priest that is marrying you and you will have to complete a form of nulity, which only he can do. This just varifies that you were not married in church, you will need the divorce decree, and would also need to know the name and title of the person that married you, in some cases you need the baptismal certificates as well. You would NOT need an anullment, that is only if you were married in church prior, and makes the prvious marriage nonexhistant. Do not lie to the priest it will only cause a mess when you get your marriage license because the divorce information is on there and when he sees it, it will be too late to fix the issue and you wont be able to get out of it, in turn the wedding may need to be posponed while you and your fiance go to marriage counseling from anywhere 6 months to a year. Believe me my sister-in-laws friend is married to a deacon and he advised us.
In any case…..God Bless and Congratulations on your wedding.