My significant other’s ex won’t grant divorce, can we have a commitment ceremony?

My common law husband’s ex won’t grant him a divorce – she keeps holding it up or
not signing papers. She had initially agreed to do so and we started planning
our wedding. When she delayed things for months we realized it wasn’t going to
happen so we changed our plans….we were never legally declared husband and
wife, we don’t have a marriage certificate, license or anything – just made
commitments to each other. Is this illegal?

Asked on September 23, 2016 under Family Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A commitment ceremony or even a religious wedding ceremony is perfectly legal if one (or both) of you are currently married to other persons; the only thing you can't do is have a civil ceremony, a marriage license, and be legally treated as married to each other.
Your significant other needs to speak to a matrimonial/divorce/family law attorney--his ex can't hold him hostage and can't keep him married against his will. He can get a divorce without her consent. Sometimes that involves a waiting period and being separated for a time (which he may already have satisfied) but is definitely the case that you can get divorced without the spouse agreeing.

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