How can I re-marry if I don’t know where my husband is?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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How can I re-marry if I don’t know where my husband is?

I am married to an Hispanic man who is not a US citizen; he doesn’t even have a SSN. We are seperated and he split and either left state or went back to Mexico. Anyway, I am unable to get a divorce at this time. Would I get into trouble or have any problems if I marry my current fiancé?

Asked on July 30, 2015 under Family Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You can only legally remarry once you are divorced; if you do so without being divorced you will be committing the crime of bigamy. In a situation such as this, your missing spouse must still be "served" with notice of the divorce action before it can proceed. This is accomplished by what is called a "divorce by publication".

In most jurisdictions, the filing spouse (i.e. "petitioner") must make a genuine effort to find their missing spouse (i.e. "respondent"). They will have to present proof to a court that they made every effort to search for and find them.

At that point, the petitioner will be allowed to serve the repondent by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper (the judge will instruct you which paper(s) to use).

In most states, the respondent has 30-60 days to file an answer after the first day of publication. If they fail to respond within that timeframe, the petitioner can file a request to enter a "default dissolution" of the marriage (i.e. divorce). Generally it is granted upon the terms that the petitioner requests, such as alimony and child support (although the respondent is given a certain time in which they can appeal the divorce or its terms).

At this point you should consult with a local divorce attorney in your area. They can best advise you further as to specific state law.

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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