Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Recent Developments in Arizona Regarding Marriage and Divorce
An Arizona court upheld the validity of a marriage despite a number of technical violations of state law.
Arizona
State:
Key point. Marriages generally are recognized as legally valid in a couple's state of residence even though performed in another state or country, so long as the marriage was valid where performed.
Key point. A marriage is not necessarily void because a technical requirement is not met.

An Arizona court upheld the validity of a marriage despite a number of technical violations of state law. A couple was issued a marriage license by a county clerk. While on vacation in Puerto Rico, the couple exchanged vows in a marriage ceremony performed by the pastor of a local church. The couple, the pastor, and two witnesses signed the marriage license after the ceremony. The couple then returned to Arizona, continued to reside there as husband and wife, and had one child. A few years later, the wife asked a court to annul the marriage on the following grounds: (1) the marriage was invalid in both Arizona and Puerto Rico because neither the Arizona marriage license nor any other was ever filed or recorded in either jurisdiction; (2) the marriage was solemnized by a Puerto Rican pastor rather than a duly licensed or ordained Arizona pastor; and (3) the couple went to a foreign country for solemnization of their marriage to evade Arizona marriage laws. The trial court agreed with the wife and granted an annulment. The husband appealed, and a state appeals court rejected each of the wife's grounds for invalidating the marriage.

Failure to return the marriage license to the county clerk

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