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Sarah Phelps wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was baptized a Methodist and married a man who was not Catholic and married his first wife in a church which ended in divorce. I was his second wife at the age of 18 and we did not marry in a church.

Many years later, I married a Catholic man outside of the Catholic Church. We later had a daughter and baptized her in the Catholic Church. I attend Mass with my husband and daughter and am considering converting to the Catholic religion.

  • Would the Church see my first marriage as invalid since my first husband and his first ex-wife were only divorced and didn't get an annulment?
  • Would I have to get my first marriage annulled considering my then husband had been previously divorced?


  { Since I'm am considering converting, what's needed, and how does the Church see my marriages? }

Bob replied:


This is a case for a canon lawyer, as there are too many variables to consider.

Sadly, our canon law expert is no longer able to be part of our team (we are in the hunt for a new one). If you meet with a priest from the parish you attend, he most likely can direct you to the best authority on the matter in your area.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help, but keep the quest alive and you will get answers.


Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Dear Sarah,

I agree with my colleague Bob: this is a case for a canon lawyer.

I would find out where the local Catholic diocesan offices are in your area and make an appointment to talk to a canon law priest (in the marriage department).

Explain to him your marital history and your interest in becoming a Catholic and I am sure he will be able to help you, if not, direct you to the right people.

As Bob said, we are in the hunt for another canon law priest to assist us in answering questions like yours.

You may find it helpful to do a Google search on our database with key words, like: Fr. Jonathan marriage annulment

You may not find exact answers to your questions but will at least be more informed on the issues involved.

I hope this helps,


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