How to divorce a dead spouse – Enoch Arden

Divorce, Missing spouse, Enoch Arden

The concept of “Enoch Arden” is this: If your spouse has been gone for five years or more and you don’t know where he or she is, and you suspect that he or she might be dead, the law in New York allows you to get what is called an Enoch Arden dissolution of the marriage–a type of ANNULMENT. That is, you can VOID the marriage on that basis: five years missing, and you suspect the person is dead. It doesn’t matter if the person is really dead or not. You can still get an Enoch Arden dissolution after a hearing before a judge. If the person shows up after you have gotten an Enoch Arden dissolution, it doesn’t matter. The annulment sticks. But you don’t get final ownership of the property. If the “dead” spouse re-appears however long after the Enoch Arden dissolution occurs, they can still bring an action to get their share of the property. See Domestic Relations Laws sections 220 and 221

The way it works is the court will make you prove that the person has been gone for five years and that you don’t know how to find him or her. You will get permission to serve the spouse by publication. But it is not enough to say that friends and family does not know where your spouse is. You will have to do an armed forces search, get affidavits etc. Similar to what you would do if you’re spouse was gone for one year and you didn’t know where he or she was and you wanted an abandonment divorce.

I guess I don’t get why anyone would opt to do an Enoch Arden when they can just do an abandonment divorce after one year by publication (also with court permission). I think the concept of Enoch Arden was way back in the early 1920’s when adultery was still the only ground for divorce in New York. Except if you had an Enoch Arden situation. But now that the statute has been amended to add additional grounds such as cruelty, separation and imprisonment, I don’t see the advantage of doing an Enoch Arden when you can just do a regular divorce, pick a ground, and move forward ex parte without having to have a hearing to “prove the allegations in your petition.”

I mean, seriously why would someone do an Enoch Arden annulment? Why is that still a part of the statute? Does anybody out there have any idea?

Sign Up! Get Free Giveaways, New Ideas & Latest News Valid email for entry Thanks 🙂

You must be logged in to post a comment Login