Arizona or New Mexico or California divorce laws 1931

+3 votes

laughDealing again with the pesky divorce that did not happen ref my Aunt Caoline (Smith) Follett Potter -- When you look at Caroline's profile you'll see the communication from J.F.M. (to cousin Mickey Riley Jr) about the matter -- what she recalled of what she was told -- 

Caroline & Denzil were in the 1930 Census Pima Arizona and Denzil married the 2nd time (or so he thought) to Garna (Davis) has HER 2nd spouse, in 1931 in Hildalgo, New Mexico.  

I don't know if Caroline remained in Arizona, but she did have siblings there, so quite possibly she did. Died there, also. So I see no reason, from where I sit, for her to return to CA to get the divorce. Nor do I suppose she went to NM with with him -- or separately -- and filed for a divorce there. She was in Arizona and for what it is worth, she had family support there. 

So likely the divorce was filed in Arizona, and while I gather CA had at that time a 2-decree system (1st decree and final decree and 12 months between the two) it seems to ME that the one in Arizona must have been quite different since he married Garna in New Mexico in May 1931. 

I need to find out the enumeration date on that 1930 Census. 

HOWEVER, does anyone know what the Divorce Law in Arizona in 1930 was? Did it take 6 weeks or 6 months or 12 months or however long to get the final decree?  Was there a 1st and then a final decree? or just the one decree? Did folk have to appear in Court in front of the Judge? 

I'm trying to understand if possible what "completed" might have meant although l THINK (IMO) that it meant just the preliminary paperwork and filing, but that -- obviously -- there would be more required, signatures or something, or Denzil would NOT have had two bigamous marriages after that. 

WikiTree profile: Caroline Potter
in Genealogy Help by Susan Smith G2G6 Pilot (511k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

1 Answer

+3 votes

I'm not sure if this is relevant, but back in the 1930-1960s, a lot of people (including my maternal grandparents) went to Mexico to get a "quickie divorce" so they didn't have to go through the delay and hassle of a US State divorce. Also the other spouse didn't even have to be present. I assume to "complete" the divorce for US purposes, one needed to file the Mexican divorce papers in the appropriate US state office. Any chance Caroline got one of those?

by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (225k points)
Interesting! I believe this is also a time period when wealthy Americans (and probably some of the less-wealthy) went to Nevada for quick divorces.

I don't know where she'd get the coin to do it in the circumstances -- in the worst case scenario she had a son not quite four yrs old  with her, her dau had died just the last year, there goes the defecting husband, and siblings in straits as dire as hers no doubt -- 

In any case finding out what the law was in 1930 etc in AZ is the first recommended step -- because if the law at that time was a matter of some papers and a few weeks as compared to one that might take as much as a year ... and whether both parties had to appear in court in front of the Judge .. such details cleared away can only help 

I am assuming "completed" means that the paper work has been done and the petition has been filed.  Since he was married again by May 1931. 

I DID locate the image of the census page it was enumerated  21 April 1930 in Pima Co, AZ  

I also assume that both parties must present themselves in court for the decree to be read.  And that where one party fails to appear, the divorce is granted to the one who does appear, regardless of which one filed the petition.

OK, so she wasn't wealthy, and Pima County isn't convenient to Nevada. However, Pima County is real convenient to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, so I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a Mexican divorce.

ADDED: The court case described at is more recent, but the facts described in the case might still provide some relevant insights about the possibility of a Mexican divorce.
As I say, focus for now is now is on discovering the divorce laws in 1930/31.

I am currently looking at what turns up for search term <divorce arizona "1930-1931"> on google, quite interesting array, I may discover what I am trying to find out

The " " marks indicates to google that the content between those marks MUST be present in what it lays out for you

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