I discovered my ex was not divorced from his first wife until six months after we were married, but not until I was already separted from him. I used a divorce clinic to draft my separation agreement/divorce and brought this up. She told me that she didn’t think the marriage was legal. I thought “Great! Let’s get it annuled.”

She then told me it would cost me more because she would have to research case law - she had never seen this before. She then stated she didn't think NC would allow me to annul the marriage because it would bastardize my children. I had to scrape the together for the divorce in the first place, so I left it alone and continued with the divorce.

My divorce was finalized six years ago. I have always wondered, though, if my marriage was not legal, then how was my divorce legal and could it come back to bite me in the butt.

I did some research a few months ago and found that both NC and SC (married in SC, but lived/divorced in NC) state that a bigamous marriage is the only marriage considered void from the beginning and it was not necessary for me to get a divorce. They consider me to have never been married. Children born into a bigamous marriage are nonetheless considered legitimate.

So, now my ex has filed a motion to modify custody. I will be in court soon. My original order states that we were married on X date and had two children born unto the marriage.

I am assuming the new order, when entered after court, will state the same. I don’t want to sign anything stating we were married on X date and that the children were born to the marriage, because I now know it isn’t true. I don’t want to sign an order that is a lie.


Your marriage was not legal. North Carolina does not recognize a bigamous marriage, however an annulment would not illegitimize your children. Despite the nature of the relationship your ex is still the father of your children as your legal relationship to him as no bearing on custody. I agree with your position in refusing to sign paperwork that is factually incorrect. Any future order should simply state that the children were born of your union, not a marriage.