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

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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

Answers:

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.


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