Faith/Spirituality Forum: Divorced Baptist

Divorced Baptist QUESTION from Marie on January 25, 2003 I have been married three times my first marriage was at age 17, niether of us were ever baptized and the marriage lasted only 8 years, my second marriage was a little different, I was baptized in the Baptist Church of my husband to be, a year later we were marred. However the marriage again was short lived and divorced resulted.
My third marriage was to a divorced catholic who had not recieved an anullment. We were married by I believe a Prespyterian Pastor. He did require that we both talk with him and explained to my husband that he would no longer be accepted by the Catholic Church. Our marriage only lasted three years at best.
I am engaged to a wonderful man who treats me with both respect and dignity and has introduced me to the Catholic Church. He was married once before and knows that he has to have an anullment before we can marry and I would also like to convert as well.
My question is this. Will I also need to have any anullments as I would really like to take my time this time and do everything right. We have been together for the last three years and he is everybit as wonderful and caring as the first day we met. I am hoping that with everything right with God that this marriage will last the rest of my life and be blessed. I thank you for any information that you may be able to give me.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on January 29, 2003 Dear Marie:
First let me welcome you to the Catholic Church since you are considering converting. We will pray for you in that decision.
From what you wrote it sounds like your intended must petition the Church for a Nullity of his previous marriage; and the question is whether you need to as well.
The answer to that is that it appears yes.
Your first marriage to an unbaptized person when you were unbaptized yourself is not a valid sacramental marriage, thus a nullity is not needed for that one.
Your second marriage, however, it appears that both of you were baptized. If that is the case, then yes, you will probably need a declaration of nullity for that one. Marriage between two baptized person is considered valid unless proved otherwise.
I think the same is the case for the third marriage, but not positive.
What you need to do is to immediately contact your parish priest and explain all this to him and your intention to convert. He can then get you (and your husband-to-be) started on the process for a Declaration of Nulity. The Marriage Tribunal in your diocese will decide for certain which of your marriages need a formal decree and which do not.
It can take a year or more to get through this process, so I would advise getting started right away.
We will be praying for your upcoming marriage and Praise God for your decision to convert. Welcome.
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