Divorce Solutions

Question #175

 Before marriage, my husband had told me that he had been married previously but had been divorced. We married in Las Vegas in 2003. He recently confessed that he was still married when he left New York 8 years ago but has had no contact with his previous spouse after he left New York to come to California. He said he thought he was divorced because his former spouse went looking for him at his parents’ house after he moved to California to find him so she could request a divorce since she wanted to remarry. He did receive paperwork for the divorce request, but he never signed them or contested them. He does not want to look into it to see if he is indeed divorced because he does not want to “open a can of worms.” Due to unrelated issues, I am now seeking a divorce. However, I am wondering if our marriage was ever legal in the first place. I would much rather have our marriage voided instead of going through a sticky divorce. Is there any resource for me to find out if he is still married? Or does the fact that he has not been in contact with his former spouse for over ten years completely void his previous marriage? Thank you in advance for all your help.

For your husband to be considered divorced from his first wife, he must have a legal divorce order from a court that has jurisdiction over that matter. If he has been living in California for over two years, California should be the state that has jurisdiction. If he never signed the divorce papers but was served with a summons and complaint, his first wife may have received a default judgment against them. You must check with the county recording office for matrimonial matters in the county where he resided and in the county where his first wife lived at the time when she made the application to see if they have any records of such divorce.

The fact that they have not been in contact for over ten years it is totally irrelevant.

If in fact he did not get a legal divorce, his second marriage to you was illegal, and you should be able to get an annulment based on that fact.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq. / Divorce Solutions