The Supreme Court of New York County recently heard an unusual divorce case. In it, the plaintiff came to court not only to seek a divorce from the defendant, but also to prove that she had been married to him in the first place. The question the court was asked to consider: Can a New York couple be legally married even if they do not have a valid marriage license?
It may seem odd to prove you are married only to turn around and ask for a divorce. However, unless a legal marriage is proven, neither person involved in ending the relationship can seek any of the legal rights surrounding a New York divorce. Claims to shared property, support agreements, and other rights that make it possible for a separating couple to establish successful independent lives are subject to your marriage being legal.
In the case heard in New York County, the couple had lived together for ten years. However, they disputed whether their marriage had been “solemnized” according to the requirements of state law. They also never got a marriage license from the state.
While the court agreed that the marriage was celebrated, or “solemnized,” it also noted that the couple didn’t get a marriage license. The couple had each been married before and knew a license was required, so the court concluded they didn’t actually intend to marry. Despite the ceremony and ten years together, the court found that the couple wasn’t married, and that the protections of New York divorce law did not apply to their separation.
Issues like these can be helped by having a good lawyer on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, P.C. for a free consultation at (516) 227-5353.