In a recent letter to the advice columnist Dear Abby, a person going by the name “Taken for a Fool” describes a truly nightmarish situation — his financially and emotionally abusive “wife” is still married to her first husband!
DEAR ABBY: I went through an ugly divorce. My second wife, “Marci,” is a liar, a cheat and a thief. She claims she’s religious, but she gambles. She opens bank accounts that I’m not aware of. She tries to justify what she has done, but she calls constantly if I leave the house. She claims she’s jealous. I think it’s more of a control issue, and I leave for peace of mind.
Recently, her relatives asked for a private meeting to discuss her behavior and shared what I feared. Afterward, I called her supposed ex-husband and he told me they are still married. When I asked Marci to show me her divorce papers, she refused. I have talked with my pastor and attorney. They said give her six weeks and then move on. What do you suggest? — TAKEN FOR A FOOL IN ALABAMA
DEAR TAKEN: Listen to these two unbiased advisers! Secure any property or information Marci might use to take further advantage of you, and take comfort in the fact that because you are not legally married, you are not responsible for any debts she has or will run up. Understand that Marci is a con artist, and please do exactly what your pastor and your attorney have instructed. If she keeps calling, block her or change your phone number. And if she stalks you — and she may — talk to the police.
This is solid advice. “Taken” needs to take himself out of this situation. From a legal perspective, this should be relatively easy. In Pennsylvania, bigamy is grounds for both fault-based divorce and annulment. Our state does not allow anyone to be legally married to two people at the same time.
“Taken” could also take steps to protect himself from similar relationship woes in the future by getting a marital agreement if he decides to tie the knot again. Marital agreements, which
many people refer to as “prenups,” are a great tool for anyone who has been in a previous relationship, or is marrying someone who was in a previous relationship.
We no longer live in a world where high school sweethearts get hitched the week after graduation and stay together for 60 years. Most couples include at least one partner who has been in a serious, long-term relationship before. They are often bringing financial baggage tied to that past relationship to their current relationship. This is where marital agreements come in handy. These legal documents allow couples to outline, in writing, the financial expectations each partner has for the relationship.
Who can get a prenup?
While it is still commonly believed that prenups are only for rich people who expect to divorce, that is simply not the case. They are a tool any couple that is serious about setting up a relationship for success can use to clarify and formalize their expectations before or after walking down the aisle.
Attorney Gary R. Swavely, Jr. has helped numerous couples in the Reading, PA area craft marital agreements that set them up for success, and protect them from making financial mistakes. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of marital agreements, please reach out to our office to schedule an initial consultation.