Ask a Franciscan

When Couples Divorce

Q: What happens when a couple divorces? One person may not want a divorce but is unable to stop it in a state where there is a no-fault divorce law. I know many divorcées who have left the Catholic Church because they felt abandoned by it. They could not be involved in Church practices. Must they give up their Catholic faith? Are there any support groups for divorced people?

A: Luckily for us, God knows the truth about such situations. A person can indeed be an innocent party in a divorce. Being divorced does not exclude a person from the Church or the sacraments. Yes, there are support groups for divorced Catholics. Your parish may help you locate one, or your diocesan Family Life Office might be able to help.

Because the Catholic Church has a great respect for sacramental marriages, it encourages its divorced members to explore the possibility of obtaining a “declaration of nullity,” which affirms that their previous marriage was not indeed a valid, sacramental marriage and that they are free to enter another marriage. Marriage tribunals in the United States accept cases only where a civil divorce has been obtained.

Click here for more on divorce.

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