Is a marriage entered into when 1 of the spouse’s is still married legal?

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Is a marriage entered into when 1 of the spouse’s is still married legal?

My spouse left me over 6 years ago to work overseas, since then I have come to find out that she married another man. I was served with divorce documents a few weeks ago from her (now she contacts me). Now that I know that, if I were to sign the documents and grant her the divorce, would her second marriage (the current marriage to another man) be legal?

Asked on October 28, 2011 under Family Law, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, the second marriage would not be legal, even were you to divorce her: it is not possible to be married in the United States to two people simultaneously, so her second marriage is void. (Potentially, if she is living in a country which recognizes plural marriages, she could be legally married in that country; though most of those nations, I believe, allow one many to have multiple wives, not one woman to have multiple husbands.) Of course, she could legalize the marriage--i.e. get married legally--any time after you and she divorce.

Note that you can't prevent her from divorcing you: it is not necessary to get the other spouse's consent to a divorce. What you can do is potentially use the leverage of granting her the divorce vs. making her take you to court for it (which will cost time and money) to see if you can't negotiate a more favorable property and support agreement. Rather than try to deal with this situation on your own, you should retain a divorce or family law attorney to help you. Good luck.


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