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Would our marriage be valid if his divorce wasn’t yet finalized?

December 31, 2016 Blog

If a person gets remarried before their divorce is finalized, the new marriage will not be valid. A person must have their marriage legally terminated before they can get married again. Being married to two people at once is considered bigamy, which is illegal in the United States. This means that the second marriage would be void from the outset. You wouldn’t be eligible for any of the legal protections a marriage automatically offers. For example, if your spouse passed away unexpectedly, you wouldn’t have any legal right to their property unless named in a will.

Laws About Bigamy

Bigamy is defined as any situation in which a person is married to two people at once. A bigamous marriage may involve a person having two wives or two husbands. Although laws about marriage, divorce, and remarriage vary from state to state, bigamy is illegal across the United States. Some states classify it a misdemeanor while others classify it as a felony. There are numerous legal implications surrounding any marriage. When two people get married, it means they own a share of the marital property and are entitled to part of their spouse’s estate should they pass away. These legal issues are a large reason why bigamy has been outlawed. People may purposefully enter into a second marriage in order to commit fraud and obtain the other person’s property.

If you’ve already entered into a marriage with a person who hasn’t yet obtained a legal divorce, it’s not necessarily a reason to panic. People who unintentionally commit bigamy aren’t generally prosecuted. For example, a divorce may fail to be completed due to a technicality without one of the spouses realizing it. In this case, since the person believed in good faith that they were divorced, a court wouldn’t be interested in punishing them. The courts generally only bring charges against bigamists who knowingly entered into a second marriage in order to commit a crime.

Laws About Divorce

In some states, there is a legally mandated waiting period for divorce. These laws stipulate how long a couple must wait between the time they separate and the time they can obtain a no-fault divorce. In California, the waiting period is six months. Pennsylvania has a waiting period of two years, but it can be reduced to three months with mutual consent from both spouses. The spouses can then file for divorce, but they must wait for a judgement before it’s finalized. A divorce isn’t truly finalized until the court clerk processes the judgement or decree and enters it into the court record. They’ll then send a copy of the judgement to the ex-spouses. If you want to marry someone who’s going thorough a divorce, it’s probably best to wait until they receive a copy of the signed judgement before you proceed.

Laws about Remarriage

Across the country, there are many laws in places regarding remarriages. Some states, including Connecticut, New Mexico, Florida, and Illinois, have no restrictions on when a person get remarried. A person can enter into another marriage as soon as their divorce is final. In other states, there is a waiting period. California, for example, requires a divorced person to wait six months before they can remarry. The length of the waiting period is generally the same as the length of time a person has to appeal a divorce. However, the waiting period may not apply is someone was divorced by settlement.

If someone is uncertain about whether their divorce was finalized, they can find out fairly easily because the court will have a record of the judgement. Things can be more complicated if a person doesn’t know where their ex-spouse filed for a divorce. In certain cases, it may be best to consult with a lawyer who can help you make sure your future spouse’s divorce has been finalized.



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