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Divorce in California if only one spouse resides in CA

Q: I got married in Russia several years ago. Now I live in California. My wife is still in Russia and we have been separated for over 8 years. I want to get married to another woman. Do I need to get a divorce first? I do not have a Green Card, would I still be able to get divorced in CA?

(Dmitry, Anaheim, CA)

A: Yes, you need to get divorced before you can get married again. In California, bigamy (being married to more than one person at a time) is a crime.

As to the fact that you don’t have a Green Card, your legal status is irrelevant for purposes of divorce. To be able to file for divorce in CA, you only need to satisfy the residency (domicile) requirements, i.e. (1) you need to have been living in California for the last six months and in the county where you want to file for divorce for the last three months prior to filing for dissolution, and (2) you had an intent to remain here indefinitely.

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