Can You Still be Married and Not Know It? Unsettled Divorce Cases are Very Common

[Source: ABC 7 News]

Is your future husband or wife fully divorced from their prior marriage?


Top Family Law Attorney Christopher C. Melcher discusses the issue on ABC News and it’s more common than you think.

Planning a wedding can be very stressful. Imagine going through all the work only to find out that your future husband or wife is not fully divorced from their prior marriage. This is a real problem that many couples face. In fact, L.A. courts looked at dormant divorce cases and warned people to settle their cases or else. Joining us now is prominent high net worth divorce attorney Christopher C. Melcher of Walzer Melcher.

How common is this to not know that you’re still married and don’t even know it?

“It’s more common than you would think. And there are many people who would go ahead and file for divorce, submit their papers to the court, get a stamp on it and think that’s all they had to do. It’s easy to get married. It’s hard to get out of one. Sometimes we will see people who think that they are divorced, and then go ahead and marry somebody else,” explains top family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.

Is that Marriage legal?

“No, it’s bigamy so it’s actually a crime to be married to two people at the same time in California. So now we have problems where we can have two spouses. One where there is the real spouse and then the punitive spouse, the new one that they have obligations to,” states California family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.

What is the missing piece to a divorce that people are missing?

“What they need is a piece of paper from a judge stamped saying that their marriage is dissolved. That will usually come months and months later after the case is started,” states California divorce lawyer Christopher C. Melcher.

If you are going to get married to someone who has been married before, would it behoove you to double check, go to the courts or call the courts? Is there an easy fix?

“I think it’s a great idea to make sure that’s all done and there’s a divorce judgment in place, and all those obligations are done so they are starting their marriage fresh and not having problems carrying over from the prior one,” explains top divorce attorney Christopher C. Melcher.

Do they check with their attorney or how do they find out?

“They can go to the attorney or the courthouse and get those records. They are all public records,” explains California family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher.

Let’s say someone isn’t getting married but are in a very long term relationship, and they are actually still married unbeknownst to themselves. What could happen in the event that they passed away or something?

“There could be all kinds of problems with inheritance rights, where there is a fight after death which can be really ugly. There can be problems with retirement rights that are being accumulated. So this is a mess where everyone really needs to take a look at that,” reports top divorce lawyer Christopher C. Melcher.

That’s a pretty scary situation. I guess the solution would be not to get married at all. We like to joke about that…

Christopher C. Melcher of Walzer Melcher, thank you so much for your advice. Hopefully you aren’t in need of one, but if you are- he is one of the best divorce attorneys in California.

Copyright 2017 ABC Inc. No claims made to copyrighted material.