Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Absence of Marriage License Does Not Invalidate Marriage

Marriage licenseFollowing a divorce, a husband and wife reconciled in 2012 and married in late 2013 when the husband became hospitalized. The couple, however, did not obtain a marriage license, and the husband died intestate the day after the wedding. Shortly after his death, the wife’s surviving spouse claim to her husband’s estate was denied due to the absence of the marriage license. When the wife appealed this decision, the judge reviewed North Carolina and United States Supreme Court precedent, concluding that the lack of a marriage license did not invalidate the marriage. The only question left was whether the couple consented to be married, or rather, did they understand all the legal consequences of marriage. With no evidence to the contrary, their marriage was confirmed upon appeal, entitling the wife to her surviving spouse allowance.

See Julianne Tobin Wojay, Lack of License Didn’t Invalidate Marriage, Bloomberg BNA Family Law Reporter, June 22, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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