Divorced and Separated Catholics

I should also like to address a word to the faithful who, even though they agree with the Church’s teachings on the family, have had painful experiences of breakdown and separation. I want you to know that the Pope and the Church support you in your struggle. I encourage you to remain united to your communities, and I earnestly hope that your dioceses are developing suitable initiatives to welcome and accompany you.

Pope Benedict XVI, Milan, June 2012


Initiatives to care for Catholics who have experienced the breakdown of a marriage include counselling, peer support groups, bereavement support for children of separation and divorce and the annulment process.

Individuals as well as couples can approach Marriage Care for counselling. Rainbows is a peer-support programme for children to help them cope with the loss of a parent through death, marital breakdown or imprisonment. For some Catholics the opportunity to review their marriage through the annulment process can be very healing. There are of course other services available locally which diocesan coordinators of family ministry would be able to signpost.

Contact your local Diocesan Coordinator for more information

Interactive Map



In 2015 Pope Francis issued 2 Motu Proprios, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus for the Latin Church and Mitis et Misericors Iesus for the Eastern Catholic Churches, which give new procedures for the formal process concerning the declaration of nullity of marriage. The procedures reduce the time taken to process a case and assist diocesan bishops to use their judicial power for the good of those in their care. Pope Francis' emphasis on mercy is at the heart of these changes: Click here to read Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus


In January 2018 the National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW) published a revised 4th Edition of their Guide to the Annulment Process. First issued in 1998, the Guide seeks to de-mystify the annulment process, making it easier to understand, and hopefully less stressful. The 4th Edition also takes into account Pope Francis' 2015 Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, ‘The Gentle Judge, our Lord Jesus, the Shepherd of Souls’.

In his foreword to the 4th Edition, Bishop Peter Doyle, Chair of the Bishops’ Committee for Marriage and Family Life, commends the Guide as,‘a resource to assist all those in our communities whose marriages have failed, and those accompanying them; and restore to them, with the mercy of God, hope and confidence on the journey of faith in the light of the Gospel.’
Printed versions of the Guide are available to purchase from the National Board of Catholic Women priced at £5 including P&P. Please download an order form on this page and email with payment to: nbcwtreasurer@gmail.com. A free electronic version of the Guide is also available to download on this page and from: www.nbcw.co.uk and www.marriagecare.org.uk