Bigamy is a criminal offence. Bigamy can happen without the bigamist even realising. This is where a specialist family law solicitor comes in. A decree absolute should be in place when a divorce matter is finalised. Your divorce solicitor will secure your decree absolute.
It has recently been reported Adam Moore, a 33 year old who had previously spent time in the British Army has been charged and warned that he could be facing jail due to his bigamy. He spent many years deployed out in the army and his marriage was never fully terminated and his education ad to be on hold due to this situation. Now, at his age he struggles to maintain a job and does not know what to do to gain money.
Mr Moore had married Lyndsay Moore in late 2008 but his first marriage had not been fully dissolved.
Whilst Mr Moore had been granted decree nisi (the interim divorce order) no decree absolute (the final divorce order) had ever been granted.
It is unclear why Mr Moore did not obtain his decree absolute particularly in light of the fact that it is usually a relatively straight forward process.
Having said that, the divorce process can be confusing. Information can be found about the process at www.gov.uk/divorce/overview also there are details on our website at www.family-law.co.uk/services/divorce-law/ . This includes a flowchart which sets out each stage.
A divorce is started by one person issuing a divorce petition on the basis of one of the five facts. They are:
- Unreasonable behaviour;
- Dissertation for two years;
- Two years separation without the other parties consent;
- Five years separation (without consent).
The papers are sent to the court with a court fee, this is presently £410.
The papers are then sent to the other party who then should complete an acknowledgement of service to confirm that they have received the papers. Assuming that the divorce is undefended (and very few divorces are defended) there is then a further form for the petitioner (the person who starts the proceedings) to complete.
Once this has been submitted to the court then a judge will look at all of the papers and will decide whether or not the parties are entitled to a divorce. If they are it will be listed for the pronouncement of the decree nisi (interim divorce order). This is the stage that Mr Moore’s divorce reached.
Following that pronouncement the final divorce order (decree absolute) can be applied for by the petitioner (the person who starts the divorce) 6 weeks and 1 day later. The respondent (the other party) can apply 3 months after the first date upon which the petitioner can apply. In rare circumstances a party can be prevented from obtaining the decree absolute until the financial issues between themselves and the other party have been resolved. It is actually fairly usual for parties to hold matters at decree nisi until financial issues have been resolved because if something happened to one of the spouses in the intervening period and decree absolute had been granted then the other spouse would not be entitled to receive any spousal benefits under polices or pensions. These could be significant and if no financial order has been made the spouse could find themselves “caught between two stools”.
If you are concerned as to whether or not a decree absolute has been granted in your case then you can request that a search be done. Details of how to do this can be found at www.gov.uk/copy-decree-absolute-final-order.