Did Han Solo Abandon a Marriage?

The new Star Wars comic set between Episodes IV and V has added a new spin on Han Solo: A woman named Sana Solo claimed Han is her husband. As quickly as you can say, “I’d sooner kiss a Wookiee,” Han has denied being married to Sana. If Sana were to be believed, this would mean Han abandoned the marriage. Making matters worse for Han, Sana is one ticked off bounty hunter who probably is seeking an extra-judicial resolution.

Let’s just hope that Han Solo does not have a profile on Ashley Madison.

Long, Long, Ago, In a State Far, Far, Away

Sana Solo has not yet produced a marriage certificate from any planet documenting her marriage to Han Solo. As such, we cannot analyze the laws of that planet on marriage. By way of comparison, abandoning a marriage is grounds for divorce in Texas and fault states such as New York. Moreover, abandoning a marriage could be a crime in both Texas and Oklahoma.

A Court may grant divorce for an abandoned spouse if 1) the offending spouse left the complaining spouse with the intention of abandonment; and 2) the offending spouse remained away for at least one year. See, Tex. Fam. Code § 6.005 and NY CLS Dom Rel § 170.

Abandonment cases are as varied as the color of lightsabers. In one case from 1914, a Texas farmer secured a divorce by abandonment of his wife after three years. The wife had claimed to leave the farm for a trip, but never returned. There were repeated attempts to save the marriage, but the farmer was unwilling to give up his farm and the wife unwilling to live on a farm. The Court accordingly found the marriage abandoned by the wife. Dickerson v Dickerson (Tex.Civ.App. 1918) 207 S.W. 941, 942.)

In a New York case, a woman of Roman Catholic faith married a Protestant man in a Protestant church. After the birth of a child and three years of marriage, the wife refused to recognize her own marriage or have sex with the husband unless they were remarried in a Catholic service. Diemer v. Diemer (1960) 8 N.Y.2d 206, 208.

The husband successfully brought an action for abandonment. The Court explained [in very 1960s language that would not fly in most states today]:

That a refusal to have marital sexual relations undermines the essential structure of marriage is a proposition basic to this court’s decision in the Mirizio case and as obvious as it is authoritative. Sexual relations between man and woman are given a socially and legally sanctioned status only when they take place in marriage and, in turn, marriage is itself distinguished from all other social relationships by the role sexual intercourse between the parties plays in it. This being so, it may not be doubted that a total and irrevocable negation of what is lawful in marriage and unlawful in every other relationship, of what unmistakably and uniquely characterizes marriage and no other relationship, constitutes abandonment in the eyes of the law. 

It is clear, therefore, that the plaintiff now before us is entitled to a separation on the ground of abandonment unless his wife had good legal cause to refuse to have sexual intercourse with him. And, as to that, it is equally clear that she had neither cause nor justification. Although it appears that she acted without malice and was activated by deep-felt and conscientious religious convictions, her motives were not sufficient in law to excuse the abandonment of her marital status. If, as a result of religious scruples, she considers her marriage invalid or non-existent and, on that account, neglects the fulfillment of a primary marital obligation, in fairness and in law her husband must likewise have the power to free himself of its obligations.  While our law is not to be “unnecessarily construed in a manner which would be hostile to religion in family life or to any other of those principles of moral, ethical and considerate conduct which ought to govern the marriage relationship”, we may not forget that this State, “as a matter of long-continued policy, * * * has fixed the status of the marriage contract as a civil contract”, governed by civil, not religious, law. ( Mirizio v. Mirizio, 242 N. Y. 74, 83, supra.) It follows as a consequence of the civil nature of the marriage contract that a wife who disavows her marriage and repudiates a fundamental marital function out of deep-felt religious conviction has abandoned her husband just as effectively as one who has done so for base and illegitimate motives.

Diemer, at *210-211, emphasis added.

Could Sana Solo bring a successful divorce for abandonment case against Han, assuming there is a valid marriage? It would appear so in New York, Texas, and Oklahoma.

However, Sana does not seem interested in divorce.



The Crime of Abandonment of Marriage After Seduction

Han Solo could face serious jail time and fines if the Empire has chastity and marriage laws like Oklahoma:

Any person who, under promise of marriage, seduces and has illicit connection with any unmarried female of previous chaste character shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not exceeding five (5) years, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or by a fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

21 Okl. St. § 1120.

It is a felony in Oklahoma to abandon a marriage after seduction:

Any person charged by information or indictment with the offense of seduction who shall, before the trial of such charge, marry the female whom he was accused of seducing, thereby procuring the dismissal of such charge, and who shall within two (2) years after said marriage, without the fault of his said wife, such fault amounting to acts committed by her after said marriage as would entitle him to a divorce under the laws of this state, shall abandon her or refuse to live with her, or shall be so cruel to her as to compel her to leave him, or shall be guilty of such outrages or cruelties towards her as to make their living together impossible, thereby leaving her or forcing her to leave him, and live apart from each other, shall be guilty of the offense of abandonment after seduction and marriage; and any person convicted of said offense shall be guilty of a felony and shall be confined in the State Penitentiary for a term of not less than two (2) years nor more than ten (10) years; and said marriage shall be no bar to the qualifications of said female to testify against the defendant; and the female so seduced and subsequently married and abandoned as herein provided, shall be a competent witness against said defendant.

21 Okl. St. § 1122.

Substantially more discovery needs to be conducted to see if Han Solo could be prosecuted for marriage after seduction and abandonment. Han must be a scoundrel, but it is unlikely he would seduce a woman, marry her, and then abandon her.

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Josh Gilliland
Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, the ABA Web 100 for Best Legal Blog and Podcast categories, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.