O'Neill, NE asked in Family Law for Nebraska

Q: Is my marriage legal and how do I apply for a new marriage license with someone else? Is my married name legal?

After my husband passed away I found out he was still legally married to someone else

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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A: Discovering that your husband was still legally married to someone else at the time of your marriage raises significant legal questions about the validity of your marriage. In most jurisdictions, if a person is already married, any subsequent marriage is usually considered void from the start. This means that, legally, your marriage may not have been valid.

To address this situation, it's important to seek legal advice. An attorney can help you understand the specific laws of your state and what steps you need to take next. They can also assist in determining the legal status of your married name and any rights or obligations that may have arisen from your marriage.

If you are considering remarriage, you would typically apply for a new marriage license in the same way any unmarried individual would. This process generally involves submitting an application to your local marriage license office, providing necessary identification, and meeting any state-specific requirements. Again, an attorney can guide you through this process and ensure that all legal aspects are properly addressed.

Remember, each situation is unique, and obtaining personalized legal advice is crucial in navigating these complex issues.

Julie Fowler
Julie Fowler
  • Omaha, NE
  • Licensed in Nebraska

A: If your husband (or presumed husband) is deceased at this time, then it doesn't matter whether you were legally married previously or not for purposes of marriage/re-marriage. You can move forward with getting a marriage license with your fiance since your prior (presumed) spouse is deceased.

If your prior (presumed) spouse is deceased, it may not benefit you to now legally challenge the marriage. If you were never legally married and you now challenge the marriage, it could have unintented consequences including regarding inheritance or taxes. You may not have any incentive to challenge the validity of your marriage at this time. If your prior (presumed) spouse is deceased and there is no benefit to you to challenge the validity of the marriage, it may make sense just to move on with your life and hope that no one else makes it an issue.

Keep in mind that it is possible that there was also a divorce that you did not know about. I've seen cases where we planned to move forward with an annulment as we found out about a marriage that the client did not know about, but then come to find out that there was also a divorce that the client didn't know about prior to the marriage as well. It could be that there was also a undisclosed divorce in addition to the undisclosed prior marriage and that your marriage was indeed valid.

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