How to End a Sham Marriage


Sham marriages -- whether for a visa in exchange for cash or without a conjugal relationship or with a hangover and a marriage certificate from an Elvis chapel in Las Vegas -- they are a farce. Living a lie is difficult and can have psychological repercussions. According to the BBC, sham marriages to obtain visas in England and Wales are up by 66 percent. Ending a sham marriage may be the best way to move on to a better life.

  • Don't delay. The longer you stay in a sham marriage the more difficult it is to end it. There is also a threat of having a visit from the immigration officials if the sham marriage was for visa purposes.

  • Organize a plan and cover your bases. Use the formula of "expect the best, but plan for the worst." If there was a cash payout involved, it may complicate leaving the sham marriage or result in violence. Have back-up options -- such as a friend to stay with -- in place.

  • Discuss the logistics with your soon to be ex-partner. Decide who is going to move and who is going to stay or if you are both going to relocate.

  • Resolve the issue of how and when you are going to tell your children. A divorce impacts on children. If you tell them the marriage was a sham it may compound an already unhappy situation, so calculate whether or not the information is something they need to know.

  • Hire a lawyer to help you get out of your sham marriage. Be honest with her and explain that it was a sham from the beginning, if it was arranged, or the date it became a deception if it is for other reasons. Explain that you want to get out of the phony marriage as quickly and as fiscally solvent as you can.

  • File for separation. Get the paperwork in process as soon as possible. If there is the possibility of a violent reaction, consider getting a restraining order.

  • Get counseling. If you stayed in a sham marriage, chances are that you may feel emotionally unraveled. Ask your doctor for a referral or check to see what sort of support services are available in your community.

  • Obtain a divorce as soon as possible. The sooner you have the final divorce papers, the sooner you can start your new life.


  • Photo Credit Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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