Metuchen, NJ asked in Divorce and Family Law for New Jersey

Q: I got divorce from my first wife but the divorce from my first marriage was not valid, which means i was still married

I got divorce from my first wife but the divorce from my first marriage was not valid, which means i was still married to her when i married my second wife.

I am now divorced from my first wife and want to marry my second wife to make it a valid marriage.

What should i do?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Leonard R. Boyer
Leonard R. Boyer
Answered
  • Clifton, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: I don't understand how you got yourself into this situation. You do not present enough facts for anyone to understand how this happened. If you got married, the second time, and you were not legally divorced, then simply getting married again in a civil ceremony should be fine. How do you know that you were not legally divorced from your first wife? Were you represented by an attorney?

Richard Diamond
Richard Diamond
Answered
  • Millburn, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: Im not sure I understand what you mean when you say that your 1st divorce was not valid? But there is a recent NJ appellate division decision addressing this issue, where the parties were "married" for 25 years but when the wife filed for divorce, the husband claimed that their marriage was not validly entered into and therefore the court was not permitted to grant wife relief available to a dependent spouse ( ie alimony and equitable distribution). Our court disagreed with the husband, stating:

The doctrine of "[q]uasi-estoppel" holds that the husband is not permitted to 'blow both hot and cold,' taking a position inconsistent with his prior conduct if this would injure his wife in their divorce. , The doctrine is designed to prevent the husband's disavowal of previous conduct if such repudiation would not be responsive to the demands of justice and good conscience. Therefore permitting the husband to disavow his twenty-year marriage would hardly be responsive to the demands of justice. Rather, permitting the result husband seeks would undermine one of the two purposes of the marriage tie and would be tantamount to countenancing two decades of fraud perpetrated on wife, the taxing authorities ( by filing joint income tax returns annually), and others.

As a result of this decision ( which reaffirms its prior holdings on this subject), since you and your 2nd wife have held yourselves out to the world as married and your 2nd wife believed that she was married to you, from the courts perspective, I would start off with the view that you and she are married. So, if your 2nd wife feels that she needs a remarriage to you since there were questions as to the validity of your 1st divorce, then give it to her to make her feel better but in the eyes of the law in this state, I think it is safe to say you and she have been married and the court will look to the entire duration when dealing with assets and income information.

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