November 01, 2020 Feature

What Constitutes a Valid Marriage?

Lindsay V. Mason

It is axiomatic that in order to get a divorce, a couple must first establish that they are married, an essential if typically easy first step in the process that we as practitioners probably take for granted in most cases. However, establishing that a marriage has been properly solemnized (in a legally recognizable manner) is not always so straightforward and can prove particularly difficult when dealing with marriages that took place in other countries—whether the parties to the marriage are from the United States or from the other country. The need to establish a legally recognized marriage will also arise in several other contexts such as application for a visa based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, inheriting from a deceased intestate spouse, or applying for government benefits.

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