‘RHONJ’: Dolores Catania's BF Paul Connell and His Ex-Wife Are Still Legally Married

Dolores and Paulie's engagement plans remain up in the air as the Bravo star's boyfriend refuses to cut ties with his ex-wife.

Elizabeth Randolph - Author
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Jun. 11 2024, Updated 5:19 p.m. ET

(l-r): Paul Connell and Dolores Catania
Source: Getty Images

Throughout Season 13 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, fans have watched Dolores Catania go from a touch cookie to a mushy romantic. And on many occasions, we’ve also seen her credit her boyfriend, Paul “Paulie” Connell, for changing her perspective on love and romantic relationship dynamics.

As we saw more of Dolores and Paul together, it became evident that the lovebirds intended to make their love last forever.

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After taking some heat from Dolores’s ex-husband, Frank Catania, Paulie stated he wanted to marry Dolores and already had a ring picked out. However, the RHONJ Season 13 reunion revealed that the Irish businessman is already spoken for — at least legally.

Before meeting Dolores, Paulie was married to another woman named Joanne Connell. Here’s the tea on Paul’s ex-wife and how she affects his and Dolo's relationship.

(l-r): Dolores Catania and Paul Connell
Source: Bravo
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Dolores Catania admitted Paulie not yet being divorced to his ex-wife makes her "angry."

While Dolores seemed OK with Paulie still being married in Season 13 of RHONJ, she changed her tune when the couple returned for Season 14, which aired on Bravo in May 2024. During a scene from Season 14, Episode 6, "Margs and Marriage," Dolores and Paulie discussed their future and why he hasn't officially divorced his wife.

Dolores told Paulie that, during Danielle Cabral's bougie brunch event, her friends asked her when she and Paulie were going to get engaged. At the time, she had shared with the group that Frank was planning to propose to his girlfriend, Brittany Mattesich. Dolores said she and Paulie had "no reason to talk about that" until he was divorced.

"To go here, you have to finalize what you're doing," Dolores explained to Paul about marriage.

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Paulie replied to his girlfriend and sarcastically asked if she thought he would "get down on one knee" as soon as he divorced. Dolores clarified that she continued to express her feelings about the situation, asking him, "What's taking so long?" and admitting that the situation was "starting to get on my nerves a little bit." Paulie then asked Dolores if she was "angry" and Dolores replied and said she was both angry and "frustrated" because he had originally told her he would be divorced "last year."

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Paul claimed "something happened" that led him to not sign the divorce papers. He said he didn't want to blame COVID-19 like many other people would. Dolores looked at him in disbelief and reflected on being in a similar situation with her ex, (and her ex-husband's former roommate), David Principe.

"I've already been through this with David," she said in a confessional. ""Me not moving in with David because I wasn't engaged was definitely smart. But now I'm like, ‘What the f--k are you doing?'"

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(l-r): Dolores Catania and Paul "Paulie" Connell on 'WWHL'
Source: Bravo

Why is Paul Connell still legally married to his ex-wife?

Dolores and Paul met through a mutual friend in 2021. Since then, Dolores has been candid about how her new relationship caused a shift in her and Frank’s relationship. Turns out, Paul’s relationship with his ex-wife, Joanne, is just as complicated.

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Paul and Joanne were married for 16 years, and Joanne is also the mother of his two sons — Brooklyn and Kameron. According to The Sun, Joanne filed for divorce on February 4, 2020, one year before he met Dolores. While they’ve been separated ever since the outlet stated the last divorce filing happened in October 2020 and has yet to be assigned to a judge.

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Dolores revealed on the RHONJ reunion that her boyfriend wants to move forward with his divorce so they can potentially get married. Her comments on Paulie’s ex-wife at the reunion echoed what he told The Sun about the situation a few weeks prior.

In May 2023, Paul said that he and Joanne had an “amicable” split and never saw a “need” for them to divorce on paper. But Paul decided to dissolve his marriage when things “got more serious” with his reality TV boo. He noted his ex has no hard feelings about him moving on and said she’s “happy” for him and Dolores.

Catch new episodes of The Real Housewives of New Jersey Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Bravo.

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