Find the right lawyer now

Divorce, Marriage, and Incarceration

Find a Local Family Lawyer near You

The Supreme Court has held that, in some circumstances, prisoners have the right to get married while in jail or prison. The regulatioins involved in marrying an inmate can vary widely depending upon the institution. The general process involves 1) requestion a marriage document, 2) providing the necessary documentation, 3) paying any applicable fees. After permission to marry has been obtained, you will usually work with the prison's Family Visiting Coordinator to arrange the actual ceremony.

Before pursuing marriage with a prison inmate, you should consult with a family law attorney in your state to discuss your options.

Can a Prisoner Get Divorced?

It is possible to divorce someone who is in prison. The best approach in any individual case will depend on the laws of the state in which you live. Additionally, it would be beneficial to speak with a family lawyer in your state because of jurisdictional issues concerning where you can file for divorce.Generally speaking, incarceration is a legitimate ground for divorce in many states, including Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and New Jersey. The length of incarceration necessary for divorce on this ground varies from state to state, but is commonly around 1-3 years. 

What if My Incarcerated Spouse Refuses to Sign the Papers?

It is not necessary for a spouse who has been properly served to sign any papers—if he or she refuses, it is still possible to obtain a divorce by default. Again, because of the complications that accompany divorcing an incarcerated person, please speak with an attorney to determine the best strategy available for you.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce?

If you are interested in marrying or divorcing an incarcerated person, you should consider speaking with a family lawyer to find out about your rights and options. Working with an experienced family lawyer will help you understand the choices you have open to you, and can help protect you, your family and your interests.

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 05-18-2017 05:00 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.