Frequently Asked Questions: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

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How should Catholics marry?

Catholics are bound to be married in the presence of a Catholic priest or deacon and two witnesses. Catholics who marry outside this “canonical form” without the benefit of a dispensation, do so invalidly.

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Can others besides Catholics receive the sacrament of Christian marriage?

Yes. If both spouses are validly baptized and free to marry, then they confer the sacrament of marriage to one another through the exchange of consent.

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Is a valid Christian marriage binding in every circumstance?

Yes. The marriage bond has been established by God in such a way it can never be dissolved. This bond, created in the free act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, becomes a covenant guaranteed by God's fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom.

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Can a divorced Catholic receive the sacraments?

Yes. There is nothing in itself that prevents a divorced Catholic from receiving the Eucharist and other sacraments of the Church. A divorced person is fully and completely a member of the Church. Divorced persons do not cease to remain husband and wife before God, and are still called to honor the marriage vows even while living in a separated state.

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Can a divorced Catholic remarry?

Any divorced person who seeks possible marriage in the Catholic Church must have each prior marriage examined by the Tribunal for a determination of its validity, unless the prior marriage(s) ended in death. Any prior bond must first be declared null before entering into marriage, whether it was a Catholic or civil marriage, even if one person is not Catholic.

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Can a divorced Catholic remarried outside the Church receive communion?

No. A Catholic who remarries without a declaration of nullity for any prior marriage may not receive Holy Communion, since its reception is a public statement of one's communion with the Church's faith and law. Catholics remarried outside of canonical form are not separated from the Church, and are called to implore God's grace through their participation as baptized persons in other ways.

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How does the status of a marriage affect children?

The Church understands that the status of children is not affected when they are born of a marriage that is later determined to be invalid. Children are a gift from God and entitled to the love and support of parents as well as the faith community. Parents may lead a Christian life by educating their children in the faith.

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What should I do if I have a question regarding the validity of my marriage?

Contact your parish priest, deacon or liaison who will explain the conditions required for a marriage to be contracted validly. They can also assist you with preparing a marriage case for the tribunal and explain the appropriate Church process involved. You may also contact the Metropolitan Tribunal for assistance.