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Alain Labranche wrote:

Hi, guys —

I use to live in a common law relationship for over ten years but now I found someone that I want to married. I am being told my fiancée and I may not be able to get married in Catholic Church because I lived in a common law relationship before and it is like being married.

  • Is there any truth to this because it does not make any sense to me?

Sincerely,

Alain L.

  { Is it true that because I've been in a common law relationship the Church can't marry us? }

Bob replied:

Alain,

The former relationship is not considered to be a valid marriage and therefore does not require an annulment. You should go to Confession and talk to a priest about your former life and resolve to live a truly Catholic Christian life before marrying in the Church.

In short, you are free to marry, but make sure you intend to live an honest faithful life as a Catholic so as to have a truly blessed union.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi, Alain —

Actually, it's not as simple as Bob makes it out to be. His answer could be either right or wrong depending on your answers to these questions:

  • How are you defining a common law relationship?
  • What State were you in?
  • Was your relationship recognized as a marriage by your State?
  • What faith are you and your fiancée?
  • What faith was the person in the previous relationship?

IF your fiancée is non-Catholic and her former common-law partner was non-Catholic, and Common Law marriage is recognized by her particular state, (e.g. Texas), then the advice she was given is correct and she would need an annulment.

Fr. Jonathan

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