The Unlikely Bigamist

Family lawyers take pride in the interesting nature of our work, and I like to comment that I never have a dull day at work.  I received a particularly interesting phone call two weeks ago that went like this—

Caller: Can you help me get divorced by July?

Me: I can help you get divorced but July is very soon. Why do you have a deadline of July?

Caller: Because I’m getting remarried then!

Me:  I’m happy to help you but you should know that Massachusetts, and most states for that matter, has a mandatory waiting period before the court will grant a divorce.  And bigamy is a crime.

As I’ve explained previously on this blog, in Massachusetts, there is a mandatory nisi period, or waiting period.  The wait is required (in differing durations) for both contested and uncontested divorces.  Many people leave the courthouse with a Judgment of Divorce Nisi, and believe they are divorced.  This is incorrect.  You are not divorced until your nisi period is over.  If you are married during your nisi period, you will be guilty of bigamy.

In order to stay out of criminal court, consult with your divorce lawyer about the nisi period before you remarry.  And, if you must remarry before your divorce is final, as the caller above insisted, consider doing a commitment ceremony instead with no legal elements.

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