How doI validate my marriage if my wife was married to someone else at the time?

After 5 years of being married I found out my wife was never divorced from her first husband. I would like our marriage to be legal ASAP. If she files for divorce from her first husband, do we also need to get an annulment then remarry or will our marriage be legal after her first divorce is final? I read somewhere that I can file something with the court acknowledging the bigamy and my desire to validate our marriage.

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Family Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Oh boy.  I do not know what you read or where you read it or if it is particular to California Law.   Your marriage to your wife is void - not voidable but void.  In other words, you are not married to her.  She needs to get a divorce as soon as she possibly can.  Then I would seek help from an attorney as soon as you can. If what you say is the law in California it may be because you would need to get a "divorce" or acknowledgement from the court that your marriage is void in order to remarry someone else.  If you wish to remarry your wife maybe the courts allow that by the means you mention here.  But again, that would best be known to a California attorney.  In the meantime - meaning before she gets a divorce - I would also seek to write a Will making sure that your property rights pass as if you were married just in case some thing should happen before you can set things straight.  It protects you, her and your kids, if there are any. Good luck. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.