Is it possible to prove a divorce was never filed?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Is it possible to prove a divorce was never filed?

My father-in-law was married to my mother-in-law and then they separated but never filed for divorce. He then got married again. On his marriage certificate to the second wife, he listed 0 previous marriages, which was false. The first wife passed away and was buried in the husband’s military plot. Then my father-in-law passed away and was buried there also. Then his second wife died and her children had her urn also placed in the same niche with my father-in-law and his first wife. Now the family of the first wife are angry and want the second wife removed because she was never legitimately married to my father-in-law. The family of the second wife insist that the marriage was valid and the cemetery took their word for it and went ahead and accepted her remains even though they were requested not to in advance. They won’t do anything without documentation showing that the second marriage wasn’t valid.My question is How to we prove that the second marriage wasn’t valid? Since the first marriage was never divorced there will be no record of that.

Asked on October 4, 2019 under Family Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You would prove that there was a pre-existing marriage (to your mother-in-law). The family of the second "wife" can then try to *disprove* that he was still married to the first when he married by the second, such as presenting evidence of a divorce (if there had been one). You don't need to prove a negative (that a divorce was not filed); you just need to prove the positive (he was already married when he "married" the second woman), since once a person is married, he stays married unless and until there is a divorce.

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