Do I need to file for a divorce if the man I married was still legally married to his first wife?

UPDATED: Jun 7, 2011

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Do I need to file for a divorce if the man I married was still legally married to his first wife?

He just filed for a divorce from his first wife and never told me that he was married and he has a child by her and by me. We were “married” for 4 years.

Asked on June 7, 2011 under Family Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Since this is a case of bigamy you should not file for a divorce.  Instead you should file for an annulment. He was already married to his first wife when he married you, therefore your marriage (the second) is void and the court cannot grant you a divorce. It can however grant you an annulment. An annulment is a legal proceeding in which a marriage is declared invalid. From a legal perspective, once an annulment is granted it is as though the marriage never happened. This means that there is no property to divide and the court does not have the power to award spousal support to either party, although matters of child support can be addressed.

Note:  Even though in the yes of the law the marriage never existed, both the marriage and the nullity proceeding will be a matter of public record and anyone can access that information.

At this point you need to consult directly with a divorce or family law attorney. 

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.

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