Invalid Marriage Licenses

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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When is a Marriage License Invalid?

There are several marriage requirements in each state, one of which is obtaining a valid marriage license prior to the wedding.  Marriage licenses can be declared invalid for a number of reasons.  The most common basis for an invalid marriage license is probably fraud on behalf of one or both of the parties to the marriage. 

For example, the parties might enter into a fake or sham marriage, such as a fraudulent marriage arrangement for the purposes of obtaining a certain immigration status.  Or, one of the parties might claim to be divorced, when in fact they are still married. 

While the laws may vary locally, in general a marriage license can be invalidated on the following grounds:

Thus, if any of the state requirements for a marriage license are not met, the license will not be considered valid.  This could have major consequences on the couple’s plans, so it is best to plan ahead and not leave the licensing until the last moment.

What if We Got Married, but Later Discovered that our License was Not Valid?

In most cases, if parties made a good faith, reasonable effort to obtain a valid license, they can usually re-apply for another license.  For most couples it would be impractical to hold an additional wedding ceremony, so they can usually go to court, obtain the new license, and have a civil ceremony to make the union legal.   

On the other hand, if the marriage license was not valid due to fraud, misrepresentation, or some other type of violation, it is possible that a new license might not be issued to the couple.  In fact, discovery that a marriage was not valid could even lead to civil consequences, as one party might sue the other for fraud or other claims. 

As mentioned, a major factor with most fraudulent marriage cases is that of immigration.  An invalid marriage license could be the basis for a removal/deportation hearing, especially where the marriage is the main reason for immigrating to the U.S. (i.e., fiancé visa, family petitioning, etc.).

Thus, there should be no existence of fraud or misrepresentation regarding the marriage license.  If you are unclear about the marriage laws in your area, you may wish to consult with a lawyer before making any plans. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Invalid Marriage License?

Marriage licenses are a central requirement for a valid marriage.  If you believe that you may have an issue with a marriage license, you should contact a family lawyer for advice.  A qualified attorney in your area will be able to explain the various requirements for a valid marriage license, which can be very different from state to state.  Many other areas of life depend on a person’s marital status, so it is best to ensure that your license will be recognized by the state. 

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Last Modified: 02-08-2012 02:20 PM PST

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