Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I was married in Jamaica on June 15, 2010. My husband, who is an American, committed bigamy. I found out after our marriage that his wife is very much alive and they were not divorced at the time of our marriage. I found out through USCIS because he had put in a petition for me. He gave me the number for it and I went on the USCIS website to check, only to find out the United States doesn't recognise our marriage because he was still married to his wife. I called him and he said he was going to get a divorce soon. He got the divorce and sent me a copy, but that was the end. I tried calling him, but there has been no answer up until this day. I would like to get my name cleared and to be recognised as a single person and move on with my life. I am still married as per Jamaican laws.
You refer to the man who purported to have contracted a marriage with you on the June 15, 2010 as your husband, even though you discovered and he admitted that he was still a married man on that date and his wife in America was very much alive.
This man sounds quite touched in the head. He marries you here in Jamaica, knowing that neither he nor his wife had dissolved their marriage. Then he returns to America and files a petition for you to obtain American citizenship in recognition of you as his lawful wife. He gave you the number of the application and when you checked on it, you then discovered that your marriage was not recognised by the United States, on the grounds that he is a married man with a lawful, living wife.
Even more astonishing, when you asked him about it, he told you that he was going to get a divorce soon. At least he answered honestly. His answer proves that he knew all along what he was doing when he married you here in Jamaica. Then you say that he does get his divorce and sends you proof of this fact. This man seems absolutely crazy to me. What was he thinking? Did he at any time in all this tell you that you would have to actually get married again after his divorce in order to be lawfully married --but not in Jamaica -- without doing something about the fraud conducted in June 2010?
Anyway, it seems that he has run off somewhere as you can no longer contact him. You wish to unburden yourself of the yoke of your "marriage" and become a single woman again, in law. You are correct that you need to do something to achieve this end.
You see, under the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1989, you will have to apply for a decree of nullity of your marriage to be pronounced by the Supreme Court on the grounds that your marriage is void because at the time of your marriage on June 15, 2010, "your husband", who will be the Respondent in your application, had a wife living at the time of the marriage. In proof of your assertion of this fact you can produce the proof of his divorce which he sent you, which will show that the date on which his marriage was actually dissolved was sometime after the date of your marriage.
Since you are no longer able to contact him, you will have to use the last address you had for him and then apply for substituted service to be effected by advertisement in a newspaper of popular circulation in the city or town in which he resides, as far as you know, or that your application be delivered to some other address to some person who you believe might be likely to bring it to his attention -- a family member or friend.
Once you proceed and obtain your decree of nullity, you will be free of the yoke of your void marriage and you can then resume your life as a single woman.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.