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Is our marriage void if his Dominican divorce isn’t recognized?

January 2, 2017 Blog

An annulment is often the preferred method of removing a couple’s marital attachment without the stigma of divorce. This is a sought-after solution for religious reasons. It treats the marriage as if it never even existed. The couple doesn’t have to consider themselves divorced on any legal documents. They revert to being single.

Annulment or Divorce
Annulments are for people who believe they never should have been married in the first place. There are certain reasons for annulment, and not every married couple is entitled to one. In fact, more people are not given an annulment. They have to get a divorce.

Reasons for Annulment

  • Fraud or misrepresenting themselves
  • Concealment of major problems
  • Impotency or incest
  • Consent
  • Bigamy

Specific Problems
When it comes to your marriage, if the divorce to his previous wife isn’t recognized, you might not be married at all, or you might be married with the ability to gain an annulment. The interpretation of the court will depend on a few factors.

If the marriage is still valid in the United States, he can’t have entered into a marriage with you. You might not have to divorce him at all. Fraud and misrepresentation are one of the reasons for annulment. That could be possible if you believed he was divorced but wasn’t. It would depend on whether the was telling the truth or not.

There are a few conditions that need to be met for the divorce in another country to potential be valid in the United States. First, both spouses had to be notified of the proceedings. If his first wife wasn’t notified or served with divorce paperwork, the marriage is still valid.

If the wife wasn’t given the opportunity to respond to the divorce proceedings or send a representative, that could present a problem for his current marriage.

If one spouse was living in the foreign country, like the Dominican Republic, the state will be more likely to recognize the divorce decree. If the decree violates the policy within the state in terms of child support or custody, there could be a problem with recognizing the validity of it within the U.S.

Beyond those scenarios, each state varies in its discretion. A divorce is considered a state, not a federal, matter.

Steps to Take
The first step in the process is to find out whether his marriage is still valid. For this, you’ll need the advice of an attorney. That attorney will be able to learn if the divorce was legal in the state where you reside.

The next steps will vary. If you’re still married, you’ll have to get a divorce or an annulment. If you can prove that he lied or concealed the status of his marriage and divorce, you could have a case for annulment.

Advice of an Experienced Attorney
To really know whether you’re married or not, you’ll need to get the advice of an experienced lawyer who will be able to find out if his divorce and your subsequent marriage is still valid. If your marriage isn’t valid, you don’t have to get an annulment or a divorce, but you might need a mediator to help you split your belongings and decide custody of any children.

It’s tough to decipher foreign policy regarding divorce as it relates to our laws. The court and an experienced attorney working towards a resolution are the only way you’ll be able to know if your marriage is valid and the next steps you should take for a dissolution of your relationship.



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