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Q: Getting Married without Divorce in Cuba ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: Getting Married without Divorce in Cuba
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: serg60-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 25 Nov 2005 07:16 PST
Expires: 25 Dec 2005 07:16 PST
Question ID: 597438
I was legally divorced 5 years ago.  My girlfried and I have talked
about getting married some day.  She was married in Cuba 16 years ago
and came to the US 6 years ago with her husband.  She is a legal
resident.  Two years ago she and her husband separated.  They no
longer have any contact nor did they have any property or assets
together.  Her marriage was never recognized or filed here in the US.

In 2 weeks we are taking a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  I would
love to surprise her and pop into a wedding chapel and get married. 
By doing this would I be on my way to happiness or did I just give her
a ticket to "pass go and go straight to jail?"
Subject: Re: Getting Married without Divorce in Cuba
Answered By: webadept-ga on 02 Dec 2005 22:25 PST

First of all, the best place to get legal answers is your attorney. We
are researchers, not professional legal advisors, and please see the
disclaimer at the bottom of the page... now with that all out of the

You have a bit more to worry about than bigamy charges, though that is
certainly an issue. I can tell you that her marriage is on file and of
legal status because you say that she is a legal resident. The process
of gaining that status would have recorded her marriage.

What you need to find out is what her status will be after a divorce.
She may not have the right to remain in the United States after the
divorce. She can file applications for immigration status, but that
will be a seperate issue after the divorce. If she has full US
citizenship status, then again, her status as married is a legal and
binding one. The United State recognizes the marriage before giving
her legal status to live in the United States.

Marriage in the United States is a Legal state. This couple filed
their taxes (for example) for at least 4 years as a married couple and
the husband may still be filing them that way (or she might for that
matter). The fact that they don't own property isn't really an issue
either way.
Married ? Includes currently married women and those who are separated
but not divorced.
Married - If, as of the last day of the tax year, any of the following
four situations apply to you, you are considered married.
1.You are married and living together as husband and wife.

2. You are living together in a common law marriage that is recognized
in the state where you now live or in the state where the common law
marriage began.

3.You are married and living apart, but not legally separated under a
decree of divorce or separate maintenance.

4.You are separated under an interlocutory (not final) decree of divorce.

How Do I Bring My Spouse (Husband or Wife) to Live in the United States?

So my advice would be to settle her legal status prior to making it
more complicated.



Request for Answer Clarification by serg60-ga on 05 Dec 2005 08:20 PST
Maybe I put the cart ahead of the horse but ast the current moment, we
find ourselves in a catch 22 situation.

When she asked an attorney what the procedure would be here in the US
to file for divorce, she was explained the process but also told that
she needed a copy of the Marriage Certificate to file along with the
application. She explained to the attorney that she did not have one
and was told that without it he could not file for divorce.

Because she fled her country, she was not granted a Visa by the Cuban
Government to visit Cuba.  She was going to try to secure a copy of
her Marriage Certificate from the appropriate authorities while

Although your answer techincally answers my question, it really does
not fix our "catch 22" situation.

I recognize that for legal advise I should see an attorney, but I'd
like to see if you could provide me with he following answers:

1. She was married in Cuba.  Does she need to get divorced in Cuba or
divorced in the US?
2. If she must have a copy of the Marriage Certificate, are you aware
of any research firms that can obtain copies of such documents for a

Thank you for your assistance.

Clarification of Answer by webadept-ga on 05 Dec 2005 10:53 PST

Is she married to a US Citizen? ... I know that might seem obvious but
you haven't come out and said it yet.

What is her actual status in the US? Citizen, green card ... (?)

Has she filed taxes in the US as a married woman? 

From there are can probably locate a path of action for you. 



Request for Answer Clarification by serg60-ga on 05 Dec 2005 11:49 PST
Thank you!!!

I think we are now making some progress.

She has a green card and will soon be applying for citizenship.

The man she is legally married to in Cuba also has a green card and
came from Cuba 5 years ago along with her.

Since her marriage in Cuba she has always retained her mother's maiden
name.  She never adopted her husband's name.

I asked her about the filing of her taxes and she states that she
recalls filing jointly one year but all others were filed separately. 
She can't recall if she filed married but separately or as divorced. 
I am sure that she can dig up her old tax returns if it makes a big

Thanks again.


Clarification of Answer by webadept-ga on 05 Dec 2005 17:22 PST
It is going to make a difference, but not for my answer or the
research. You are going to want to know that however before your
proceed. The worst thing that can happen is to give the courts or
immigration a reason to "question" your/her status. Find the details
about everything you can, so that when you are asked about them, you
know the answer. Giving "we'll find that out for you" as an answer is
never a good one.

The Immigration application (Green Card) asks specifically if you are
married. If she answered yes to that, then there is a document (which
if she lied on is perjury and reason for deportation), which says she
stated she is married to her husband. The USA recognizes that marriage
as legal and binding, as well as allowing the benefits for marriage.
So that question is settled. I'll look into this other stuff and get
back to you.


Clarification of Answer by webadept-ga on 05 Dec 2005 18:50 PST

I wasn't sure, but I just looked up the requirments for your situation:


To be eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States
you must meet the following criteria:

    * You must be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the
United States and be able to provide documentation proving your
    * You must prove that you can support your relative at 125% above
the mandated poverty line. Click here to find out more information
about meeting this criteria and filing the Affidavit of Support.
    * If you are a US Citizen you may petition for the following
foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however
you must be able to provide proof of the relationships:
          o Husband or wife;
          o Unmarried child under 21 years old;
          o Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
          o Married son or daughter of any age;
          o Brother or sister, if you are at least 21 years old; or
          o Parent, if you are at least 21 years old. 


    * If you are a lawful permanent resident you may petition for the
following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United
States; however you must be able to provide proof of the
          o Husband or wife; or
          o Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

This is from "Immigration through a family member". What this suggests
is that she (or he) would have had to show a copy of the marriage
certificate prior to getting her lawful permanent residence (Green)
card. Since this is the case, then the task is very simple. Just go to
her Immigration office and ask for a copy of their copy... very


Clarification of Answer by webadept-ga on 05 Dec 2005 19:18 PST
hey again, 

If for some reason (unlikely) that the IMS doesn't have a copy of the
MC, then this group may be of some help in acquiring the certificate
or providing answers to the situation.



Request for Answer Clarification by serg60-ga on 06 Dec 2005 04:58 PST
Thank you very much!!!!  You've turned a "catch 22" situation into a
possibility for closure on the past, which really means a great deal
to my better half.


Clarification of Answer by webadept-ga on 06 Dec 2005 12:52 PST
Thanks, and good luck to you. 

Happy Holidays. 

Subject: Re: Getting Married without Divorce in Cuba
From: irlandes-ga on 02 Dec 2005 15:29 PST
One does not need to be an attorney to know she is MARRIED. Period. End of debate.

In today's society, there is little negative for a couple living
together.  Why risk bigamy charges?

Also, though you would like to surprise her, I suggest you ask her
opinion on this.  However, even if she wants it, it is a bad idea. In
the United States, bigamy is a serious crime, and as an immigrant, she
may not realize that.

If you want to marry her, save your money and help her get a legal
divorce. It sounds like a slam-dunk divorce, if they haven't seen each
other in a while. The only trouble could be if she has kids by him,
which brings up legal parental  notification and custody issues.

With divorce so easy, and bigamy such a serious crime, a few minutes
thought will tell you your idea is a bad one.
Subject: Re: Getting Married without Divorce in Cuba
From: irlandes-ga on 02 Dec 2005 15:32 PST
Addendum. Check it out and see if she was really, legally married in
Cuba. If her marriage was registered legally, then she is legally
married everywhere.

The reason I say this, is that for example in Mexico, a large
percentage of "married" couples never legally married. They just
announced they were married, and everyone accepted that, because it is
so common.  So, you will encounter Mexicans who claim they are
married, but legally they are not.  Since Cuban culture is different,
one needs to check.
Subject: Re: Getting Married without Divorce in Cuba
From: expertlaw-ga on 04 Dec 2005 19:35 PST
If the woman is a Cuban national, settling her immigration status is
made much easier by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1996. (Referring to
her as a "legal resident" is a bit ambiguous. If you mean that she
already has her Green Card, this is a non-issue.)

The fact that her wedding occurred in Cuba does not render it invalid.
She should divorce before she remarries.

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