What to do if my wife was still married when I married her?

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What to do if my wife was still married when I married her?

I married my wife 13 years ago, she believed that her marriage was finalized through a newspaper attorney. Then 3 years ago, we got a call from her ex saying that he wanted a divorce. He filed the proceedings and they were finally legally divorced. We have been separated off and on for 2 years. How could that have been not found that she was still married when we applied for the marriage license since it was all in the same state? I had been told that once the first marriage ended, ours became valid since it was still legally issued a marriage certificate. Is that true? How can I go about legally ending this?

Asked on July 1, 2016 under Family Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First of all, there is no search regarding prior marriages when a marriage license isssued, so your wife's first marriage would not have necessarily been found at that time. As for your "marriage" becoming legal when your wife's first marriage was finally ended, that is not correct; you cannot be retroactively married. At the time you both married, your wife was still someone else's wife. Accordingly, your marriage was null and void. In other words, it is as if it never happened so you need not file for divorce. That having been said, you should at least get an annullment, as this will clarify legal issues relating to the "marriage".


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