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dbm3

Is Divorce Legal if Marriage Never was?

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I have a friend that just went through a very dirty divorce and child custody battle. She later found out that the marriage ceremony wasn't legal. The witnesses who signed the license were not at said ceremony or witnessed signing said document. Instead former acclaimed husband went to each individual alone and had them sign document after the so called wedding. In which she was not aware of these actions taking place until recently. So would divorce even be legal if marriage wasn't at all.  Stating the marriage was fraudulent.

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1 hour ago, dbm3 said:

She later found out that the marriage ceremony wasn't legal. The witnesses who signed the license were not at said ceremony or witnessed signing said document.

 

What makes her/you think that this made her marriage not legal?  The tag on your post refers to Minnesota.  If the marriage was performed in Minnesota, then the question becomes whether these defects render the marriage invalid.  Chapter 517 of the Minnesota Statutes (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=517) covers "Civil Marriage."  While I didn't read through the entire thing, I didn't see anything that would lead me to believe that these defects would render a marriage invalid, and it is commonly the case that these sorts of formalities will not affect the validity of a marriage that is otherwise valid.

 

 

1 hour ago, dbm3 said:

Instead former acclaimed husband went to each individual alone and had them sign document after the so called wedding.

 

Acclaimed husband?  Huh?

 

 

1 hour ago, dbm3 said:

So would divorce even be legal if marriage wasn't at all.

 

I don't know what you it might mean for a divorce to be "legal" or not "legal"?  In other words, what exactly are you getting at here?  Even if the marriage wasn't valid, your friend is now divorced, so the marriage is over one way or the other.

 

 

1 hour ago, dbm3 said:

Stating the marriage was fraudulent.

 

A failure to comply with these sorts of formalities is not "fraud."

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Read this:

 

2015 Minnesota Statutes 517.16   IMMATERIAL IRREGULARITY OF OFFICIATING PERSON DOES NOT VOID.

A civil marriage solemnized before a person professing to be lawfully authorized to do so shall not be adjudged to be void, nor shall its validity be in any way affected, on account of a want of jurisdiction or authority in the supposed officer or person, if the civil marriage is consummated with the full belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been lawfully joined in civil marriage.

 

I imagine that the courts might also find that the irregularity in the witnesses also does not void the marriage.

 

Does your friend have $20,000 to spend on a lawyer and the desire to go through this ordeal all over again?

 

There is another part of the marriage statute that says hanky panky by the officiating person with the certificate is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100.

 

 

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Hi @dbm3

 

Welcome to the community and thanks for posting! As others have suggested, your friend may first want to determine if the lack of presence of witnesses actually caused her marriage to be invalid. Some of the Minnesota legal authority that our users have provided suggest that this sort of irregularity may not automatically invalidate a marriage. There is a distinction in the law between a "void" marriage which never had any legal effect (for example, if the parties to the marriage are closely related) and a "voidable" marriage, which can be voided by one of the parties at their discretion (for example, if one party was intoxicated or mentally incompetent while entering into the marriage). Our Learn About the Law materials contain sections specific to Minnesota marriage laws.

 

Your friend can also choose to meet with a local family law attorney, however, as other posters have mentioned, it may be cost prohibitive for your friend to un-do a divorce and obtain an annulment at this point, given that the parties have children together.

 

Best of luck to your friend!

The FindLaw.com Team

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