Please familiarise yourself with this material concerning the issues involved in re-marriage after divorce. It should be noted that statistically second and subsequent marriages breakdown more frequently than first marriages do and, therefore, the preparation for re-marriage should be done even more carefully.
When a couple approaches you to marry them after one or both of them has been divorced, permission must be given by the Archbishop for a priest of this Diocese to be involved in the ceremony.
It is required that you assure the Archbishop of three (3) things before this permission will be granted:
a. That the couple are, or genuinely desire to become, part of an Anglican community somewhere.
b. That all arrangements concerning the former relationship(s) have been adequately dealt with, and are not still unresolved and a potential source of disharmony, anxiety or conflict in the proposed marriage relationship.
You should therefore discuss with the couple:
- What arrangements have been made about children of the former marriage(s) with regard to custody? access? Are these arrangements finalised and accepted by all parties concerned (ie by both parents and potential step-parents)?
- What arrangements have been made with regard to property and maintenance agreements? Are there legal agreements in place? Are these arrangements finalised and accepted by all parties?
It is vitally important that these matters from the former relationship(s) are dealt with and are behind the couple, and are as unlikely as possible to interfere in the new relationship they are building.
c. That you are satisfied to the best of your ability that issues involved in any former relationships have been resolved as far as possible and are unlikely to be carried into the new relationship, ie, that the couple are genuinely emotionally free to enter into a new married relationship.
The resolution of feelings of anger, hurt, resentment, loss, bitterness and frustration about the former marriage(s) is an important determinant of the survival of second or subsequent marriages, and people require opportunities for these feelings to be properly resolved. There must be forgiveness of the situation, so that these old resentments and expectations are unlikely to be carried forward into a new marriage.
If possible, some attempt should be made to resolve old issues in a sacramental context.
The couple should also be referred to Anglicare SA as part of the marriage preparation procedure in order to ensure that they are both emotionally free to enter genuinely into this new commitment. If they prefer, you could refer them to another appropriate agency.
In order to complement your ministry with the couple, they should be referred to Anglicare (or another appropriate organisation which they prefer) as soon as they approach you for commencing this process.
Other facilities offered by Anglicare, which you are encouraged to use as part of your preparation for couples for re-marriage, are:
'Prepare': a computer-based programme which assists couples in identifying objectively the ideas, values and feelings they have in common, and the areas in which there are differences that they may want to work on.
'Prepare MC': a version of the same programme, adapted for couples who have children from (a) former relationship(s).
Consultation: Anglicare's counsellors offer support and consultation to clergy working with couples. Information about community resources, a second opinion or just the opportunity to discuss some issues raised may be helpful.
Further information and suggestions are in the kit, which is available to all clergy. This will assist you in your work with these couples and is available from Anglicare (ph 8342 4005).
When you are satisfied that you can give your assurance to the Archbishop that these matters are properly resolved, complete and send the letter to the Archbishop seeking his permission for your involvement.
Please do not hesitate to ask Anglicare for assistance if you have any doubts or concerns about the process, or the state of readiness of the couple.
Time-line and Summary
Make a time to see the couple.
Refer to Anglicare SA, or another appropriate agency, at least six months before the proposed wedding date.
Arrange a follow-up interview with the couple.
Send the letter to the Archbishop seeking permission to be involved, as soon as the work with Anglicare or another agency is completed, at least three months before the proposed wedding date.
Note: Because of the high breakdown rate of second or subsequent marriages in our society, we are conscience-bound to ensure that every couple is given ample time and opportunity to reflect upon their relationship and to consider the issues raised by 'Prepare' or a preparation course. That is why, unless there are special circumstances, no application can be considered which is made less than three months before the schedule marriage.