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Civil Marriage

Question
Although I’m now very much living an observant life years ago it was anything but and married a non-Jewish woman civilly. Currently we are in the final stages of divorce and have since found someone in my community that I would like to marry. Given halacha does not recognize civil marriage to a non-Jew I’m curious whether I’m able to marry religiously prior to the civil divorce being finalized? Obviously we would marry civilly as well afterwards.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Your question is not a purely halachic one. That is to say, from a halachic perspective it would seem that you could have a Jewish marriage even without a secular divorce from a non-Jewish "wife". However, the laws of the country you live in also play a part. It may be legally forbidden to have two wives at the same time in the country you live in. If so, then there may be serious concerns about conducting a Jewish wedding that may be an infraction of the secular law of the land – and these concerns become halachic concerns due to the religious principle that the law of land has halachic force to it. All this being so may I suggest that you approach your local Rabbi who will be able to clarify the situation with the local religious authorities (the Bet Din etc), and give you a clear answer for your situation. May you be blessed to (when it all becomes permitted!) build a faithful house in Israel.
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