Home Forums All Things Catholic Question on non-Catholic marriage — and civil annulment

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    I was married at 19 for 3 years. We married in an Episcopal Church (he was Episcopalian baptised, but non-practicing). The marriage broke down in 2 years, and we obtained a civil annulment a year later, but had been living apart for the last year.

    My questions would be:

    1) am I married? I am Roman Catholic.

    2) Was I ever married?

    I should explain that my parish priest would not marry us because he believed that I was a lapsed Catholic (I was honest with him) and he said that because of me, he would not marry us. The interview did not go well, and he was not the priest I remembered. I should say the priest was seriously ill and was dying of cancer and so the questioning became rather bizarre and centered on my beliefs concerning death and “hell” — not marriage. I did not know the priest was ill at the time of the interview with my then to be spouse. It ended badly with him proclaiming that I was going to hell and he would not allow us to marry in the Church. It was a horrible experience, but the priest was focused on death.

    2) do I need to seek an annulment through the R.C. Catholic Church?

    I have not spoken to this ex-spouse in over 35 years, and I’m not sure of his whereabouts though I believe that I might be able to locate him. He is remarried with children. I expect no cooperation after all this time from him. While we were not enemies, we were not friends either and, if anything, we are now thousands of miles apart. With no contact in over 35 years, and he being a non-practicing Episcopalian, he would find any request by me to be meaningless and insignificant, if not completely “out of the blue.”

    I should add that after a time, he refused to have children and the civil annulment was obtained on the basis of “fraud” — leading me to believe we would have children when after the marriage he later refused. I believe he was planning to leave.

    Thank you. This question has bothered me for nearly 40 years. I never remarried in any ceremony — civil or otherwise.

    Admin note: for more information on marriage for non-catholics click here.


    I was married 30 years ago and it only lasted for one year. I also was married outside of the Church (in a Methodist Church) so the Church never considered me being married. Unless you married outside the Church with permission and went through the classes in your parish and had a priest present, I don’t see how it could be considered a valid marriage. All I had to do was go to confession and I was free to marry in the Church which I did and now have been happily married for over 25 years. The best thing to do is go talk to your parish priest. An annulment is necessary if it was a marriage ceremony that is recognized by the church but then the Church has to investigate to see if it was an actual marriage. If an annulment is necessary only one party need to consent. There will be attempts to contact the second party but if the Tribunal is not able to locate the second party, the annulment, if necessary, will still be attempted.
    You are in my prayers.


    Thank you. We had no permission as the priest responsible for seeing couples to arrange for marriages would not give his permission. I will do as you said and seek out my local parish priest in reconciliation.

    I never liked not knowing where I stand with the Church.

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