My friend is a Cohen who is considering marrying a woman that is divorced. However, at the woman’s prior marriage ceremony, which was conducted by a reform female Rabbi, there were no Shomer Shabbos witnesses. Nevertheless, the woman does have children from that marriage. Is it permissible for my friend to marry this woman.
This is a difficult question.
If it is certain that there were no shomer shabbos people present who saw the chuppah, there will be no problem in the Cohen marrying the lady, even though she has children from her first “marriage.”
However, if the lady in question received a proper get (bill of divorce), and there were Shomer Shabbos people present at her wedding, then some have written — including Rav Moshe Feinstein (Even Ha-Ezer 76-77, based on the stringency of the Chasam Sofer 100) — that the case might involve the need for a full get, in which case there will be a “re’ach ha-get” (a “trace” of a get), and this is sufficient to prohibit a Cohen from marrying her.
If there is a further issue, please submit again with more details; the halachah will depend on the precise circumstances.
Best wishes, and apologies for delay in reply.