Is this marriage valid?

All Woman

Dear Mrs Macaulay ,

Is a marriage still valid if you've been married for six years and never lived with your spouse, nor corresponded with him from the time of the marriage until now?

Your letter has brought to my attention a very interesting situation, in that you state that you got married six years ago but that you and your husband never lived together as man and wife, and that you have not communicated with him since.

The short answer to your question is yes, it is still valid, on the assumption that he is still alive. This is so because it seems that you knowingly and intentionally agreed and went through the solemnisation of your marriage before a marriage officer six years ago. You have not said whether you and your husband consummated your marriage and then went your separate ways, nor have you stated why this occurred and why there was no communication between you thereafter. I give you the benefit of the doubt that the solemnisation of your marriage was not a fraudulent act by both of you or by either you or your husband.

In my opinion, your marriage is valid, as it does not fall under those cases stated in the Marriage Act as being void. It also does not fall within the provisions in the Matrimonial Causes Act which deal with decrees of nullity on the grounds that the marriage is void. Your circumstances fall outside of the provisions of both these Acts.

It is quite clear to me, from the little you have stated, that your marriage does not fall within the category of void marriages. This being so, the marriage was and is still valid, and has been so for the six years when you had no communication with your husband. I hope that you have some idea where he resides presently, because in order to divorce him you would have to serve him with your petition. If either of you wants to be in a position to legally marry some other person now or in the future, you must apply to dissolve your marriage.

If either of you should go through another marriage ceremony without first being divorced, such a marriage would be void, and you may open yourselves to charges of bigamy, since each of you would have known that you had a spouse still alive at the time of such a second marriage.

If you do not know his current address, having filed your petition for the dissolution of your marriage, you can apply to the court for an order for substituted service by advertisement and/or service on a member of his family who you know is close enough with him to be able to get the petition to him. Whatever the situation may be, you must apply to the Supreme Court by way of a wife's petition for dissolution of your marriage and proceed according to the Matrimonial Causes Rules as your circumstances require.

You must get an attorney to act for you in obtaining your decree nisi and ultimately your decree absolute.

Good luck.

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 allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

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