This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Can You Use a Later Marriage Date in Divorce Without Prior Divorce?

Question from Zozo, Can You Use a Later Marriage Date in Divorce Without Prior Divorce?

Answer from AI:

When filing for divorce, the legal validity of the marriage in question is a critical factor. In the United States, the law generally recognizes a marriage that is legally performed and valid in the place where it occurred, provided it does not violate public policy. This principle is known as the “place of celebration” rule. However, if a person is already legally married, any subsequent marriage without a legal divorce from the first spouse would typically be considered bigamous and thus invalid.

Understanding Bigamy and Legal Marriage

Bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another. Bigamy is illegal in all 50 states in the U.S. Therefore, if the first marriage was legal and there was no divorce, the second marriage may not be recognized as valid.

Implications for Divorce Proceedings

When filing for divorce, you must use the date of a valid marriage. If the first marriage was legal and there was no divorce, the second marriage (in California, in this case) would not be recognized legally. This means that for divorce proceedings, the date of the first marriage should be used.

  • If the first marriage is still valid, the second marriage is not legally recognized.
  • The divorce must be filed based on the valid marriage, which is the first one in this scenario.
  • Property acquired during a bigamous marriage may be subject to different legal rules than property acquired during a valid marriage.

Property and Asset Division

The insistence on using the California marriage certificate due to the purchase of property during this period complicates the situation. California is a community property state, meaning that any assets acquired during a valid marriage are considered jointly owned by both spouses. However, if the marriage is not legally recognized, the standard rules of community property may not apply.

Legal advice is necessary to navigate the complexities of property division when the validity of a marriage is in question. A family law attorney can provide guidance on how to proceed with property division under these circumstances.

Steps to Take

  1. Verify the legal status of the first marriage to determine if it was legally dissolved.
  2. If the first marriage was not dissolved, seek legal advice to understand the implications for the second marriage.
  3. Consult with a family law attorney to discuss the appropriate jurisdiction and marriage date to use for divorce proceedings.
  4. Address the property division with the help of a legal professional, especially since the property was acquired during a potentially invalid marriage.


It is not legal to use the date of a later marriage for divorce proceedings if there was no legal divorce or separation from a prior marriage. The first step is to establish the validity of the first marriage and whether a legal divorce occurred. For personalized advice and to ensure that rights and assets are protected, it is crucial to consult with a family law attorney. They can help navigate the divorce process and address any issues related to property division.

For more information on marriage and divorce laws, you may refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Policy Manual and the California Courts Self-Help Center.

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