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Richie Smithson wrote:

Hi, guys —

My wife and I have been married to each other for 19 years as Protestant Christians. Previously, we were both married to unbaptized non-believers who committed adultery which resulted in divorce. We found each other and have now been married 19 years. I am thinking of converting to Catholicism.

  • Would we both have to get our previous marriages annulled?
  • Does the Church recognize our current marriage?, or
  • Are we considered to be living in adultery?

Again, our previous marriages both were to unbelievers, and both ended in our previous spouses leaving us for another person.


  { If we were both previously married to unbaptized non-believers would we each need an annulment? }

Eric replied:


Yes, you would need annulments.

A declaration of nullity ("an annulment") is a recognition that a marriage was invalid from its inception.

Consequently, it does not depend at all on anything that happened after the marriage (although events after the marriage may be evidence indicative of what was present before the marriage).

Thus, adultery is not a justification for an annulment. An annulment is not a "Catholic divorce"; marriages cannot be dissolved. If that were true, if you wanted to get divorced and remarried, all you'd have to do is commit adultery, and thus the marriage would be dissolved!

Speak to your local priest; he can shepherd you through the process.


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