Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
“My (ex) wife and I have lived apart as a divorced couple for more than 20 years although we never finished legal proceedings. We have filed our taxes this way, have titled ourselves this way. We haven’t seen each other in 4 or 5 years, I’m not even sure exactly where she lives now. We have no property between us and the two children are both in their mid-late twenties.
I want to re-marry someone else. Is this first marriage considered “abandoned”, or do I still need to go through a divorce? If so, how long under these circumstances would I normally wait? This is in New York State, we were married in CT.”
Question: You will need to actually get divorced. “Abandonement” is grounds for divorce, and it sounds like you have satisfied the waiting period requirement. You will need a court to get jurisdiction over your wife. You likely can file the case in New York, and eventually serve her by publication if you cannot find her. Depending on how quickly she is served or if there are any issues that come up, will likely determine how long it will take to get your dissolution. The minimum times vary from State to State. In California where I practice, the minimum time before the judgment is official is 6 months from the date of filing.