May a couple who marry in the Church, divorce, and later reconcile resume marital relations?

Full Question

A husband and wife are validly married in the Catholic Church, and after several years get a civil divorce, never seek an annulment, live chastely after the divorce, and then reconcile. Are they allowed to have intercourse since they are still married in the eyes of the Church, or must they first have their marriage acknowledged by the state?


For a Catholic, divorce is a purely civil matter and does not affect the validity of a sacramental marriage whatsoever. The husband and wife will always retain the right to express their marriage vows sexually. When such individuals reconcile, they are certainly free to live as man and wife.



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    So having a quickie with your X-wife is OK, but having sex with your current wife is sinful. That must create interesting scenarios in which a divorced man is prosecuted by the state for adultery for having sex with his X-wife, while the Catholic Church persecutes him for being divorced.
    The best thing about these Iron Age rules is that it surely leads to fewer kids growing up Catholic.

    1. Faith Reply

      Kids are go to CCD and are taught about God’s commandments just as we were taught as children, but if children see that even parents don’t care to follow nor obey, then why should they. It is logical that they neither will obey nor much less believe.

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