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Can I marry a man who is married to another woman in another country?

Fresno, CA |

I am a US Citizen in love with a man who has been separated from his wife for five years. He was married in the Syrian Orthodox Church and has been told he will never be granted a divorce given the reasoning for divorce is not grave enough to warrant a divorce. We currently have no intention of living in the US and no intention of living in Syria. We have all intentions of one day getting married and potentially starting a family.

What options are there for us, if at all?

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Filed under: Divorce Bigamy Marriage
Attorney answers 2

Posted

There's really only one: he gets divorced. Depending on where your friend is living, he may be able to get a civil divorce dissolving his marriage, whether or not the "Syrian Orthodox Church" says he can, or should. I do not know enough about the rules Syrian Orthodox Church to be able to tell you the effect of a civil divorce on his continued membership; he should talk to a clergyman about that.

Other than that, you can't legally and effectively marry him, in any state in the U.S. Going through a marriage ceremony, if you know that you're already married to someone else who's still alive and you haven't divorced, is attempting to commit bigamy, which is a crime in most states, though a rarely prosecuted one. A bigamous marriage is void or voidable, so you're not really legally married to the second "spouse".

Posted

The answer is to get a civil divorce not a church divorce. But you can't get married until he obtains a divorce.

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