Marriage if Divorced

The Benefice rector is Rev Simon Butler.

He can be contacted on 01256 861706 or email:

Marriage where one of the parties is divorced and has a former spouse still living

All the four parishes of Herriard with Winslade, Tunworth, Upton Grey and Weston Patrick have agreed to consider the possibility of marriage where one of the parties is divorced and has a former spouse still living.

The Bishops of the Church of England have laid down guidelines for churches to follow. Basically, I will need to discuss a number of issues with you both. I should stress the aim is not to dissect a previous marriage or relationship, seeking to allocate blame. The emphasis is rather on the present and the future whilst ensuring that the previous marriage or relationship has been properly let go of, reflected upon and learnt from and any ongoing commitments taken seriously.

In order to do this I will explore a number of areas with you before making a final decision. These include:

  • Whether any responsibilities relating to the first marriage are being properly fulfilled. This relates primarily to children of a first marriage.
  • Whether you as a couple have discussed the fact that there has been a previous marriage and your feelings about it.
  • Whether the one of you involved in the earlier marriage has reflected responsibly on that experience and learnt from it.
  • Exploring your understanding of Christian marriage.

On occasions there is a fifth issue, where a previous spouse is living either in or close to one of our communities and a marriage in a particular church might be divisive in the community. Obviously distance, both in relation to geography and how recently the marriage broke up is relevant to this.

All these issues normally take one meeting to discuss and I am normally able to give a decision soon after that.

It might be that, as an alternative to marriage in church, you would wish for a blessing of marriage after a civil ceremony. This is preferred by some people, but not others.

In common with my church councils I am very committed to enabling people to re-marry in church, provided the issues mentioned above feel properly resolved and other aspects of the requirements for any marriage, such as the law relating to residence are fulfilled.

On a very practical note, and by Law, before I can marry someone who has been divorced I need to have a sight of the Decree Absolute.

Thank you for your interest in this issue. I hope that together we will be able to find a way forward that is right and appropriate.

With very best wishes

Simon Butler