By Alexander T. Lewis of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Wednesday, September 19, 2018.
It has long been considered common practice for anyone getting married in Virginia that two items are needed to get married: (1) a marriage license; and (2) a marriage ceremony. Most people first proceed with obtaining the marriage license and then proceeding with the necessary ceremony and there are no issues.
However, the Virginia Supreme Court recently ruled that there is no such requirement in Virginia to first obtain the marriage license prior to the marriage ceremony. In Levick v. Macdougall, the parties were married in 2002 and subsequently filed for divorce 10 years later. During the divorce proceeding, the Husband argued that they were never actually married because they failed to obtain their marriage license prior to proceeding with the marriage ceremony. In fact, the parties did not obtain their marriage license and send it to the officiant for execution until a couple weeks after the ceremony. Despite this, the Court found that the marriage was valid as Virginia law does not require that the marriage license be obtained prior to the ceremony and determined that the public policy of Virginia is to uphold the validity of a marriage for the best interest of society.
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