What is the legal status of a “second” marriage if a first marriage was not finalized prior to the ceremony?

i’m a retired private investigator/police detective and trying to find an answer for a former client. About 7 months ago his wife filed for divorce. It was granted 4 months later. However prior to the final decree he married another woman. I know it’s illegal to be married to 2 people at the same time but neither  of the women have an issue; it won’t go criminal. If he wants out of the marriage, does he have to file for a divorce on the second marriage or is it null and void?

Asked on September 21, 2011 under Family Law, Missouri


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Is this in the state of Missouri?  It is my understanding that Missouri law distinguishes "void" from "voidable" marriages.  A void marriage is always a nullity and the facts here support that contention.  But I would seek some form of order from the court supporting that contention and declaring the marriage void for legal reasons, such as inheritance, etc. This way there is no question and the county clerk's record of the marriage can be refuted with the order of the court. An annulment may work here on the grounds that the marriage was void from the start.   It is worth the trouble.  Although it seems he is going to have to go through legal proceedings twice: one for each marriage.   Good luck. 

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