Since 2002 it has been possible for people who have previously been married and divorced, and whose former spouse is still living, to marry within the Church of England. In November 2002, the House of Bishops issued Advice to Clergy concerning the procedure to be followed when one of the applicants for banns or a marriage licence is a divorced person with a former spouse still living. Whilst parishioners normally have the right to be married in the parish church of the parish where they live, a priest is entitled by law to refuse to remarry a divorced person in church whilst the former spouse is still living.
When a couple apply for Banns or a Common Licence, if one of them is divorced with a former spouse still living, the minister who will officiate the wedding should interview the couple in accordance with the Advice to Clergy, and ask the couple to respond to the questions raised in the Marriage After Divorce document.
In the Diocese of Norwich it is a requirement that the minister officiating the wedding seeks the permission of the Bishop of Norwich as to whether the marriage may proceed.
The application for a Common Licence can be made while the permission is pending, but the Registrar can not issue the Licence until this has been received.