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   Home  > Tips

Can Divorced People get married in Church?

In 1998 more than half of all couples married for the first time chose to be married in church. For those couples where at least one had been married before, the figure was just 18%.

These statistics might show that there are a lot of people out there who would like to be married again in church, but don’t know how to go about it. And yet there are ways in which many divorced people can be married in a church.

In the Roman Catholic Church, there has to be a church court to annul the previous wedding and to declare that it hadn’t been properly entered into. This can take a long time, but it is sometimes possible.

In the Church of England, it depends on the local person in charge. In a few places, the vicar or rector is prepared to marry those who have been divorced. You just have to be fortunate enough to live in one of those parishes. At the moment it depends entirely on the conscience of the local vicar. The Church of England is reviewing the whole issue of divorce and remarriage, so there may be changes in the future.

By and large, you are less likely to find a minister to marry you in the Church of England, or the Roman Catholic Church.

You are more likely (but not certain) to find a minister to marry you in the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church or the United Reformed Church. If getting married in church is important to you, then you may have to try more than one.

These denominations (and some other smaller ones) have decided that in principle they are prepared to marry those who have been divorced, in appropriate circumstances.

The decision as to whether they will marry you, is left to the local minister in charge of the church. Amongst many other things, they will be looking to make sure that:

  • This is a serious attempt to make a new start
  • The present relationship is not the cause of the break up of the previous marriage
  • You are not asking to get married in your ex’s own church
  • Maintenance payments and childcare access are all in order
  • You are not making the same mistake again

There is no automatic right to get married and it may be that the local minister decides that a church wedding would not be appropriate. However, in many cases, you will be able to go ahead with a church wedding.

The service will not be quite the same as in the Church of England, and there will probably be a lot less ceremonial (you might think that was a good thing). But is often possible to still have what many people call a “proper” wedding. By that they don’t mean the white dress and the hymns – what they mean is that they want to be married in the eyes of God, and they feel that is only really done in a church.

The best way to begin is to go along to church one Sunday, and see the minister after the service. He or she will be able to advise you from there.

To learn more read Getting Married in Church – again, which explains more of the details and includes helpful, practical advice.

Tip by David E Flavell

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