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What Is a Sham Marriage?

A sham marriage is a married entered into to deceive society or a government agency about the couple’s intended purpose. Sometimes the marriage is referred to as a fake or fraudulent marriage. There are different types of sham marriages. One type is considered a “marriage blanc.”

What Is a Marriage Blanc?

The term marriage blanc is French for “white marriage.” This marriage is one that is not consummated by the spouses. Consummation means the couple went through all the proper steps to get legally married and then had sexual intercourse afterward. In a marriage blanc, the couple never engages in sexual intercourse after the marriage ceremony. However, the couple continue act in public as if they had a legal marriage.

Is Consummation a Requirement in Marriage?

Consummation may be a requirement where one or both of the spouses expected to engage in sexual intercourse after they are married. Not having sexual intercourse after a marriage ceremony can be grounds for an annulment or divorce where this expectation existed. The lack of consummation may also be an indication that there is some form of fraud happening, such as engaging in a sham marriage for inheritance purposes or to fool an insurance company.

What Could Be the Cause of a Marriage Blanc?

A marriage blanc could be the result of either one or both spouses not wanting have sexual intercourse after the wedding or:

  • Being incapable of having sexual intercourse
  • Having a chronic illness
  • Having a chronic disability
  • Asexuality
  • Impotence

Can I Seek an Annulment For a Marriage Blanc?

Yes. An annulment is a court proceeding dissolving a marriage because of one or more reasons, including not consummating the marriage. 

Are There Legal Consequences for a Marriage Blanc?

Yes. If the marriage is considered a sham for a specific purpose such as to fool immigration officials, the couple can face criminal charges. The criminal charges related to immigration fraud include:

  • Prison sentence
  • Fine
  • Deportation
  • Pay retribution
  • Marriage is annulled

Should I Talk to an Attorney If My Marriage Has Not Been Consummated?

Yes. A family attorney will explain the legal ramifications of entering into a marriage blanc to defraud people or public officials. The attorney will also explain your legal rights if your spouse decides not to consummate your marriage.  

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 12-11-2015 04:17 PM PST

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