Catholic's Divorce Survival Guide

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Book - Annulments

BOOK - Rebuilding

Common Myths About Divorce

Confession__POWER2Divorce is a sin.
Not necessarily so. The Church understands that in extreme cases is may even be necessary to separate and/or file for civil divorce for the emotional or physical protection and safety of a spouse and the children, or to preserve property rights. (CCC 2383) Every case is different because every marriage invokes two unique people in unique circumstances. Not many really know what goes on behind closed doors. Don’t be too quick to judge without a caring heart, an open mind, and all the facts.


Now, what leads to civil divorce can be very sinful. And, yes, filing for civil divorce in many cases is another sinful act that deeply wounds the marriage, the family, and the whole community. But all people have the ongoing love of God, forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and hope for marital reconciliation or at least the conversion of all hearts.

The divorced can’t receive Holy Communion.
Not necessarily so. If they have not remarried outside the Church and are in the state of grace, they are free to receive. However, NO Catholic who is in the state of ANY serious, unconfessed sin should approach to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion until he/she is convicted of the wrong, confesses, and repents with a “firm purpose of amendment”. Habitual bitterness, unforgiveness, lying, cheating, pornography, and sexual immorality, are examples of “serious sin” that offends Our Lord. Just as we would never go to a wedding unshaven, unshowered, and without a gift, so, too—out of love and respect for Christ in the sacrament—we should be properly prepared and disposed to receive him in this intimate act of love.

Melancholy_3Children are Illegitimate after an Annulment.
Untrue. A “Declaration of Nullity” addresses the consent of the spouses at the time of the wedding to see if there was some serious issue that prevented a valid bond from forming. It has nothing to do with the gift of children. “Legitimacy” is a civil issue concerning a child’s paternity. Children born of a legitimate civil marriage which is later declared “null” by the Church are always legitimate and enjoy full rights and privileges of the civil law. Sadly, when one spouse party petitions for annulment, the other spouse (or family members) will try to make them look bad in the eyes of the children by telling them, “Mommy/ Daddy wants you to be declared illegitimate!”. This is distressing to the children to say the least and indicates ignorance and gross selfishness.


Annulments can be bought.
No, they can’t. Canon Law has always provided for those who cannot afford the average administrative costs in this country ($400 -$700) by dismissing or lowering the fees. Many dioceses now charge nothing. And even if your best friend is a judge on the tribunal, you can’t change the outcome. The process of the law is still required for the protection of the parties, the community, and the dignity of the Sacrament.

flirting_in_bar_1You can date after divorce.
Not unless you have a Decree of Nullity and are otherwise mentally, emotionally prepared to marry another. Why? You are still married and married people are not available to give themselves romantically and sexually to others. Every time a couple says “I do”, whether they are Catholics or atheists, the Church presumes a VALID marriage bond comes into being. If both are baptized, then it also is a SACRAMENTAL bond. You can’t just do what you feel like without consequences. 


People usually want to date after divorce because they long to feel loved, know they are still attractive, or want to quell the loneliness. Especially if they have been lonely for many years in their marriage. But in a certain sense that is using the other person. The other person has a right, if he or she falls in love with you, to know you are completely available and that there is no undue burden or temptation that will affect you both. Don’t use other people; instead call your same-sex friends, find a fun hobby, or get a pet. And take your pain to Our Lord who truly understands the cross you carry—and will help you carry it.

For more (because there is a LOT more . . . ) read the other resources on this site.