Self-Help Divorce Mistake #1: Using a Friend
Alan O’Neill, 42, a resident of Washington State, enlisted a friend to help him with a self-help divorce from his first wife. Afterwards, Mr. O’Neill started another relationship and eventually decided to try his hand at marriage again.
He happily married a second time and all was well. The happy couple, as many do today, put pictures of the ceremony on Facebook to share with others.
One person, however, definitely did not “like” the joyous event: Mr. O’Neill’s first wife, who he had never divorced.
It turns out Mr. O’Neill’s friend never filed the necessary legal paperwork to complete the first divorce proceeding.
Understandably Mr. O’Neill’s first wife brought the situation to the attention of the authorities. Mr. O’Neill was charged in March of this year with attempted bigamy. He pled guilty a few days ago.
Self-Help Divorce: The Potential Penalties
So, Mr. O’Neill had to endure months of public embarrassment and ridicule. In addition, his second marriage was annulled. This means the marriage was effectively cancelled, as if it never existed.
In addition, he has to go through the entire divorce proceeding from scratch again. After finishing that, he will then have to marry his second wife again to have it legally valid.
Bigamy is Illegal in Minnesota Too: Take Away Messages
There are a few lessons here: First, there are a lot of procedures involved with a divorce. It’s critical to do them correctly both to get the proper legal result and to advocate for your rights.
Second, a family law attorney is a fantastic resource to help walk you through all of the potential pitfalls involved in the long and complex divorce process.
Third and finally, don’t trust a friend or neighbor to do it for you, unless they happen to be a lawyer. If you ignore this advice and go with a friend’s help anyway, at the very least double-check everything they do.
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