My wife and i split in 2009, i never signed divorce papers. Are we still legally married?

My wife has since had 2 more children and currently seeing someone. I have met
someone but nothing official. Thought i might want to find this out first.

Asked on June 7, 2017 under Family Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It depends. If you refused to sign the divorce papers, your spouse may have applied for and been granted a "divorce by default". However, if you did sign them because they were never served on you, then you may well still be married. The only definitive way to know if you are divorced is to locate the decree. You can start by contacting the legal notice department of the newspaper in the area where you and your spouse last lived. If your wife couldn't find you, she may have gotten permission from the court to use "service by publication" instead of personal service. You can check with the courthouse in the county where you last lived together. You can also use go online to find out if the state where you lived together offers a searchable docket database. You can also contact your state’s department of vital records. Finally, if all else fails contact a private investigator.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you never signed the divorce papers and there was also no order from family court ending or terminating your marriage then yes, you would seem to still be married. Splitting up, even starting divorce, is not enough if the divorce process is never finalized and concluded.

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.