Am I Divorced?

The question is all too frequent. Am I still married? How can I find out if my spouse divorced me?

If you and your spouse have been separated for a long time, the simple answer is that there is no easy way to confirm whether your spouse ever divorced you. You can check easily enough, of course, in the court for the area where you live. But what about the area where your spouse lives? And if you have lost touch with your spouse, how can you know where he or she has lived?

Unfortunately, the solution is to err on the side of safety. If you’re not sure that you and your spouse are still married, and it’s important to you to be single (for example, if you want to remarry), you have no choice but to get a divorce, even if you learn later that it was redundant.

Getting a divorce when you can’t locate your spouse takes a little extra time, but shouldn’t be inordinately expensive. You will typically follow this sequence:

  • You will file for divorce and persuade the court that you cannot after reasonable diligence locate your spouse. The court will then permit you to serve your spouse by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where you live.
  • You will publish a notice in that newspaper (typically for four consecutive weeks), providing pertinent information that your spouse could use to respond to your divorce complaint if he or she read it — and of course, there’s a REALLY SLIM chance your spouse will read it.
  • After the notice runs for four consecutive weeks, you are deemed to have accomplished service of process on your spouse. Now you must wait ANOTHER 30 days. At the end of that 30 days, you will file an application for default on the basis of your spouse’s failure to respond.
  • The court will set a hearing. At that hearing, you will provide testimony that confirms the court’s jurisdiction as well as the grounds for divorce. Then the court will likely sign a Final Judgment of Divorce.
  • There are some things you can do and some things you cannot do when you obtain your divorce by publication. You can get custody of a child, for example, and you obtain custody of property. Typically, however, you cannot get an award of child support until you actually get personal service on your spouse. Most courts are also reluctant to transfer property of a spouse unless and until that spouse has been served personally.

    225 thoughts on “Am I Divorced?”

    1. Hello,
      I married in the state of California and filed for legal separation in the early ’80’s. I then filed for divorce right after. I was told by the courts my divorce would be final in six months. I fled the state of California to get away from my soon to be ex-husband as he was a dangerous man. I assumed after six months my divorce was final but I never received a divorce decree. I thought I didn’t receive them because I had fled without submitting a change of address for fear I would be found. Now I want to remarry (at 59) and sent for my divorce papers. I received information indicating the divorce may not have been finalized due to a missed court date? I was never told I had to attend another court date. I cannot believe this many years has gone by and nothing ever came up indicating I may still be married. Can I file to complete the original divorce or do I need to start over? Can I do this without the other party finding out where I now live?
      Thank you so much!

      1. In all likelihood, you’ll need to start over. When you do, you’ll need to show that you have done all you can to find your spouse. Talk to your lawyer about protecting your address from your spouse.

    2. My husband left me 8 yrs ago.a female came to my work one day and left a paperwork for me through my co-worker. It was divorce papers. Can that be considered as me getting served even if i didn’t see who droped off the divorce papers or even if the divorce papers were not handed directly to me? Living in california.

      1. I can’t speak for CA. In my state the process server must hand the documents directly to the person who is served, not to a co-worker or family member.

    3. My husband insist he got an annulment. He states we are no longer married. I have been very I’ll dx. with breast cancer in 2014. I simply need closure. He is in Virginia I am in New York. I deal with anxiety because he doesn’t tell the truth. My quality of life has been adversely affected. Thank you I need some peace.

      1. If he got an annulment, it would be filed in either VA or NY. You can check in NY, and if you have a buddy in VA, ask them to check there. If your husband has in fact NOT filed what he said he did, you certainly can file for divorce in VA if that’s what you want.

    4. A friend of mine is married to two different women. He hasn’t seen either one of them in a little over 10 years. He has no clue of where they could be.
      Now, he wants to purpose to his long time girlfriend.

      Is there a reason to believe he could still be married?

      1. Yes, there’s every reason to believe he could still be married. Divorce doesn’t happen with the passage of time. Somebody has to file for it.

        1. That makes sense. I guess he’ll just have to go follow up and try to divorce them both.
          Hopefully they can be found

    5. Hi, i have been legally merried for 13 years but seperated for 11 years.
      8 in witch he has been in prison. Doing a term of 15 to 25 years. Does he have rights to fight a divorce, and what would be the best way to go about this. Thank you any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    6. I married my husband in 1987 i have one child boy from my husband my child born in 1988 my husband and i seprated from 2005 to onwords 2017 reason dangers enviorment from12 years we did’nt see or meet eachother is this divorce

      1. Because your English is so poor, I recommend you have a friend with better English skills help you when you post on message boards. I think you’re asking whether you are divorced simply by being separated from your husband for the last 12 years. If so, the answer is no. There is no divorce that happens automatically simply because spouses split up and never see each other. If you want to be unmarried, you still need to get a divorce.

    7. I divorced my ex husband, within the papers I agreed to not marry for two years after final divorce paper. Can I get into trouble if I do marry within the two years? Will my new marriage stand if I marry within the two years?

      1. Wow, Sophie. That’s a new one for me. I’ve not heard of anyone inserting a provision like this in their divorce documents before, so I’m not sure whether it would be enforceable. Specific enforceability would depend as well on the domestic relations laws in your state.

        I would think that, given that discretion is the better part of valor, it would be prudent to comply with the restriction. Also, in general, I usually encourage people to wait longer than they think necessary before forming another serious relationship, so the two year moratorium may actually prove helpful even though it seems so burdensome right now.

    8. My partner has been separated from wife for 20 years with no contact now found out shes remarried with no knowledge to my partner they were ever divorced

    9. I was married over 20 years.. I was severely depressed and still suffer from depression.. I was never served.. How do I know if that was legal.. I had no say so in regards to division of property.. He never remarried and he had 2 children while we were still legally married.. I’m from the Detroit, MI area..,Please help me!!

      1. Go to any courthouse in MI and ask to search the divorce records. Search by your full name and your husband’s. If there’s a divorce filed for the two of you in MI, you should see it. If you want to look at the actual documents (rather than just a list of them), you may need to go to the court where the divorce was filed. The clerk can tell you for sure.

    10. I filed for divorce in 1995 we got back together a year latter but my “” so called husband found the papers that we signed I did see a case # on those papers All I have are copies of the papers but they do not have any numbers (court docket ) or signatures. How can I find out? B M

      1. Look at the documents you have and identify the state and county shown. If you have a buddy in that county, ask him or her to go to the courthouse and search for the filing. There will be a docket sheet showing the documents filed. If the divorce was granted in that county, your buddy should be able to see (and photograph with his or her smartphone) the decree and other documents.

    11. My husband and I are married but we have no sexual relationships for 2 years now. We are still living together because of our 2 children I guess. I don’t want a divorce yet but can I get a separation?

      1. Yes, although you are likely to spend a great deal of money in the process. It might be more prudent to spend a fraction of what you would spend on pursuing an adversarial legal separation and engage a good counselor to help you work through your options. You may decide to reconcile, to divorce, or even just do nothing and continue living in the same household. And you will keep most of your money intact for whatever you eventually decide is your permanent strategy.

    12. My divorced was signed by a judge in Aug 2016 but be have been separated since Feb 2013. I didn’t file, my ex did. He sent me a picture of his receipts and such but I have yet received my decree. We have both planned on getting the divorce and I was very eager to sign the papers. I am currently in another relationship and in this relationship we have a child. We are looking forward to getting married but I need proof that I am divorced… how can I find out that information?

    13. I was married for 13 years,my ex wife file for divorce in indian Colony in nevada cuz she cheated on me ,i live in ca,and i have never received my divorce decree,she is native American and Im Mexican ,am i still married ?

      1. Alvaro, get a buddy who lives in NV to go to the courthouse and search the divorce records using your name and your wife’s name. Your buddy should find the case. If your buddy takes a digital camera. he or she can snap pictures of the relevant documents and send them to you.

    14. Me and my husband have been separated for three years now, we have stayed friends all if this time he even helped me move into my new apartment when I left him, now he wants a divorce and he sent me a text message to my phone in January 2017 asking telling me this. I never replied back to him, can he file for a divorce by asking me like that when he could of just came to my place , I know why he wants to divorce me now because 2018 his full retirement will kick in and he don’t want me to get wants mine from it, how sad that us I deserve that money I waited on him for 21years, what do you think I should do I don’t want a divorce I want my money from him I earned it.

      1. Hi Janice. In answer to your first question, if you’re asking whether your husband acted legally, the answer is yes. If you’re asking whether he showed good manners, I’ll leave that for others to decide. If you don’t agree to the terms he suggests, you shouldn’t sign documents. It sounds like you need to spend some time with a good divorce lawyer in your area so you can get an idea of what to expect a judge would order. Then you will have greater confidence as you negotiate with your husband.

    15. Hi! I have been married for 2 years now. My ex contacted my sister a few months back that we are still married. I live in Arizona and he lives in California. He filed for divorce in 2000 and had me sign the divorce papers but apparently he never took care of it. I moved on and haven’t seen him since. I never even thought about researching to see if I was married because I thought it was said and done. He told my sister he is filing for divorce again and that he still has our marriage license hung up on his wall. He’s been persistent on getting my address and have the papers served to me. What can I do about it? Is my marriage even valid to my now husband? And can I get in trouble for being married to someone else without me knowing I was still married ……’s been about 17+years! Please help!

      1. Hi Karen. Your new marriage is valid. It sounds like you do need to complete your divorce from your first husband, but I know of no reason to expect that divorce to be particularly difficult or confrontational. If you’re reluctant to contact your first husband for fear that you’ll make it easier for him to serve you, ask your sister to reach out to him and explore the possibility that he could prepare documents for a simple, clean uncontested divorce, the kind you signed so many years ago and he apparently never pursued to completion. I can’t promise you he’ll agree to that, but if all he wants is to complete the divorce, that should be appealing to him. Simpler, faster, and cheaper.

    16. My name is James Walker. I’ve been separated from my wife for 15 years she now wears her maiden name I want to get remarried but am I still married

      1. Hi James. If you’re sharing all you know, there’s no way you can check. On the other hand, if you know her maiden name and have an idea of the state where she might have obtained a divorce, you can check in that state under her name and yours. If you can’t confirm you’re divorced, you should obtain one before remarrying.

    17. I am engaged to a man whose divorce papers were filed 4-14-17 (Alabama), however, we can’t seem to get an answer from the spouse on whether the judge has signed off. How can I get this info or do we have a legal right to travel and marry as planned?

      1. If you have a buddy in Alabama, ask him or her to go to any county courthouse and search for the record of your case on the court’s information system. The case number would be great, but if you don’t have the number you can search for it by the names of the two spouses.

    18. My husband and I have not been together or had any contact for over 15 years. Do I have to file for a regular divorce or is there some paper I can file since there has been no contact between us for so long? I live in Alabama and he lives in Louisiana.

      1. Hi Rita,

        No, I’m sorry to say there’s no shortcut you can invoke just because you haven’t contacted each other for years. You still need to get a divorce the way everybody else does it.

    19. I need to know if I’m divorced yet I think it was 2009 we moved to north Carolina that’s were he from he said he wanted to be closer to his family well he finally got a job there after 6months then he comes home tells me he loves me but not in love with me and he tells me he cheated on me got person pregnet so I left came back to Tennessee now after 8yrs I think I severe divorce to move on with my life the last time we talked he said he didn’t want to get divorced he just wanted us to be apart for awhile but its been long anuff now I need divorce I found me a wonderful man now he ask me every day to marry him I really want to marry him but I need to know thanks a lot

      1. Hi Misty. I don’t have an easy answer for you. If you can’t find a record of your husband having obtained a divorce in the area where you live or the area where you think he lives, you will need to file for divorce yourself. It takes awhile, so you’ll need to go ahead and get started. I’m sorry.

    20. I was married and I reserved a letter to come to court my husband divorced me I did go so or reserve a divorce degree how must I know I’m ligal divorce cz I move on if my life its been 6years we not live together

    21. Did my husband divorce me behind my back with me not knowing my name is _______. please help me we married 2 14 _______. at courthouse on Cesar Chaves please help me find out because I believe we are still married

      1. I removed the identifying information. No one on this board has the time or the resources to search for you. If you think you may be divorced, go check for a divorce filing in the county where you and your husband lived together, or just ask your husband.

      1. Hi Deseray. No, it simply means that your Mom and Dad are married and have been separated for 9 years. If they want to be divorced, they need to file for a divorce.

    22. Ive been married for 5years, live and bought a new house 2years ago in Virginia. my husband keep me in the house. No financial support and all that, just me taking care of him all the time as he quoted ‘ I don’t need anything because he provides everything I needed in the house’. He is very controlling, insecure and manipulator. Till end of 2016 he became anxious with his personality and became abusive. On December 8, 2016. He became so angry laid his hand on me, force me to leave the house and had me stayed at holiday inn hotel next to the airport and bought me ticket to phillipines with 150$ in my pocket and two small suitcases. Since then, no contact, support or apology from him. All I’ve got are, insulting, discriminating, threats and downgrading words from him…I am doing ok now. And I realized I don’t want to keep using his last name and I want to make sure he divorce me. Help me.

    23. Our marriage took place 47 years ago in the UK and I have been domiciled in Australia since 1974….which Court would I proceed through?

      1. I am not schooled in the laws in Australia, but if their courts follow the same principles of those in my country, you would want to file in Australia.

    24. I have been married for over 18 years. My husband has been devoiced over 24 yrs. something came up and he had to refile papers with his ex wife. He had to serve her now it had to go to the judge. How could we have gotten married if he was not divorced? They were on married 6 yrs she wanted to go a name change no children and was going to get remarried

      1. Hi Claire. I’m sorry to say that this is not nearly so unusual as people think. There’s no matching system or other protective mechanism built into the system for granting marriage licenses, so people can at least theoretically marry multiple spouses and never bother getting a divorce. They break the law when they do so, but there’s no barrier preventing it.

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