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Q: question if marriage is invalid ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: question if marriage is invalid
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: nita1-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 11 Nov 2006 20:32 PST
Expires: 11 Dec 2006 20:32 PST
Question ID: 781994
I am currently separated and due to the confusion of our "Marriage" I
do not know how to proceed.  I live in Missouri and the wedding
ceremony was conducted by telephone at my home in Missouri with both
of us present at that time. As we live near Arkansas, the minister,
who at the time of the ceremony was in North or South Carolina advised
us to get an Arkansas marriage license.  He would register his license
in Arkansas and would sign the license after he was registered  The
telephone wedding occurred on Mar 15, 1997, we applied and received an
Arkansas marriage license on Mar 17th, 1997 and sent it to him.  His
name was registered in Carol County Arkansas on Mar 21st and he dated
our license March 22, 1997.  Arkansas law states an Arkansas marriage
license is only valid within the state of Arkansas.  As we were in my
home in Missouri when this ceremony took place,  I feel that this
marriage is invalid. In addition to the fraudulent dates on the
license.  If I am not married there would be no need for a divorce. 
In consulting an Arkansas attorney I was told I needed information
from Missouri on Missouri state law and statues to invalidate my
marriage. There are no children involved.  Any help would be
Subject: Re: question if marriage is invalid
Answered By: mvguy-ga on 12 Nov 2006 09:15 PST
First of all, a disclaimer: Although I have studied law and am
familiar with the legal process, I am not a lawyer. Even if I were a
lawyer, under the terms of service for Google Answers I could not give
legal advice here. The best I can do is provide you some information
that will be helpful as you attempt to untangle your legal

Ultimately, and it sounds like you have done so already, you will need
to get an attorney involved. It's not clear to me why the Arkansas
attorney you talked to did not research Missouri law. Any attorney
would certainly have the resources available (professional databases,
law libraries and that sort of thing) to do that.

If you're satisfied with the Arkansas attorney you have worked with,
you should ask him/her about researching Missouri law. If not, you
should contact another attorney.

Ideally, you probably will need a lawyer in Carroll County, since
that's where the records of your "marriage" are found. There are at
least three attorneys serving Carroll County who deal with issues of
family law:

Rachel Runnels

Thurman & Bishop

McCracken Law Firm

The third firm listed above appears to be licensed in both Arkansas
and Missouri, so that may be helpful. These firms were all listed on
the site:

Another place to find an attorney is FindLaw:


I will assume here that you are not married under Arkansas law unless
you have a valid marriage in some other state. The attorney would not
have brought up your Missouri situation if that were the case.

The Missouri statutes on marriage can be found here:


Simply search for "marriage" without the quotes. Searching here finds
no provision that a Missouri marriage license can be used for getting
married out of the state. So I would assume, as your attorney
suggested, that you were not properly married under Missouri law.

Although the statutes do provide penalties for fraudulently marrying
(it's a misdemeanor, but my guess would be that the statute of
limitations has expired), they do not explicitly provide that such a
marriage would be automatically invalid. The grounds for annulling a
marriage are that one or both of the parties could not legally consent
(such as by reason of age or duress). By all appearances here,
invalidating a fraudulent marriage would require some sort of court
order, and for that you need an attorney.

So, again, assuming that the Arkansas marriage is not valid, the
question is, do you have a recognized marriage in Missouri?

The answer appears to be no.

You can find Missouri laws on marriage here:

Missouri statutes

Note that the only way you can get married in Missouri is by obtaining
a legal license in Missouri.

Marriage license required

The next question, then, is, do you have a common-law marriage in
Missouri? In some states, you can become married simply by living
together as if you're married (I'm simplifying things a bit here).
However, Missouri has no common-law marriages:

Marriage license required

IMPORTANT WARNING: Arkansas also does not have common-law marriages.
But if you and your "husband" lived in a state other than Arkansas or
Missouri acting as if you were married, you may have a common-law
marriage in that state. Such a marriage would be recognized in both
Missouri and Arkansas (indeed, in any state). The states were you can
have a common-law marriage are these: Alabama, Colorado, District of
Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah. So if you
lived in any of those states acting as if you were married, you may
indeed be married.

You can find out more about common-law marriage here:

Dymystifying Common-Law Marriage

So, the basic answer to your question is this:

1) By all indications, including the comment of your attorney, you
were not legally married in Arkansas.

2) You haven't been legally married in Missouri because you didn't
obtain a marriage license there and Missouri doesn't provide for
common-law marriages.

3) Unless you and your husband lived in some other state with
common-law marriages, you are not married anywhere.

That's the good news for you. BUT HERE'S A SECOND IMPORTANT WARNING:
It would be a huge mistake, even if you verify all this information
with an attorney, to not take legal action to have your Arkansas
marriage license formally made null and void. THE PRESUMPTION ANYWHERE
You will need to show otherwise to a court of competent jurisdiction.

If you don't have that marriage formally made invalid, you could find
yourself (or your "husband") accused of bigamy if you decide to
remarry, and there could be other legal consequences as well in terms
of taxes, liabilities and property ownership.  You might prevail (not
be found guilty) if it ever came to that, but it would be silly to
take that chance.

What you will need to do, then, is contact an attorney who can file
papers in Carroll County. Probably what you will need to do is sign an
affidavit reciting the facts as you have given here, and you may need
to have your "husband" and the minister involved do the same thing.
Those affidavits would then be submitted to a court, probably in
Carroll County but possibly in Little Rock, which could then declare
the marriage license null and void.

My personal advice is please don't ignore the fact that you will be
presumed married unless you can show otherwise. You could find
yourself responsible for debts your "husband" may incur or find other
legal difficulties if you don't take care of this.  In the end, you
might win some dispute that hinges on your marital status, but it
would be a lot easier to take care of your marriage status the proper
way. Please contact an Arkansas attorney who can arrange for an
annulment or other invalidation of the marriage. A Missouri attorney
may be able to do this for you also, but ultimately you will probably
need to get some sort of a legal document from Arkansas in any case.

Or, it might be easier (especially if your "husband" agrees) to file
for a divorce/dissolution in Missouri and waive the right to contest
the validity of the marriage license. An Missouri attorney could tell
you if this is an option.

I hope you find this helpful,


Google search terms used:
find lawyer

"common-law marriage"

State statutes found through searches at FindLaw
Subject: Re: question if marriage is invalid
From: daniel2d-ga on 12 Nov 2006 07:01 PST
You probably have a common-law marriage.
Subject: Re: question if marriage is invalid
From: daniel2d-ga on 12 Nov 2006 07:08 PST
Correction :  There is no common law marriage in Missouri. BUt,
proving the events as you describe them would be hard to prove to get
the marriage dissolved.  Probably harder and more expensive than a

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