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Marriage In Church After Divorce


Key documents – click here:
Leaflet for couples – Marriage in Church after Divorce (Form and explanatory statement).
The House of Bishops’ Advice to the Clergy on Marriage in Church after Divorce (GS1499).


Even where a couple normally has the entitlement to marry in a parish church, if one of them has been divorced (and the former spouse is still living), a member of the clergy is entitled by law to refuse to conduct the wedding in those circumstances.

The House of Bishops issued Advice to the Clergy (GS1499) concerning the procedure to be followed when one of the applicants for a marriage licence is a divorced person with a former spouse still living. General Synod made it clear that the decision whether to solemnize such marriages rests with the incumbent (or officiating minister, provided the incumbent is prepared for his/her church to be used for the marriage), whilst affirming both that marriage remains a life-long covenant and that there are exceptional circumstances in which a divorced person may re-marry in church.

The House of Bishops discussed the issue of Common Licences in respect of those being married in church after divorce. The House resolved that Common Licences should be available to the divorced, provided that the Advice to the Clergy had been complied with.

A copy of the leaflet for couples (the form and explanatory statement for Marriage in Church after Divorce) can be downloaded from the Church of England website by clicking on this link: Marriage in Church after Divorce leaflet for couples.

For the procedures involved in a wedding after banns or a Common Licence, couples should contact the Diocesan Registry for the diocese for the parish church where they wish to marry. To find out the relevant diocese, search for the church on ‘A Church Near You’. The listing information for each church will name the diocese it is based in.

For the procedures involved in a wedding by Special Licence, please see the pages about applying for a Special Licence.


Banns and Common Licences
Possibility of a Special Licence