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Legal Marriage Requirements

Couples united in "religious ceremonies" are not lawfully married.


Key point 3-04. All states permit clergy to perform marriage ceremonies. However, some states permit only "ordained" or some other classification of clergy to perform marriage ceremonies. It is important for clergy to determine if they are legally authorized to perform marriages under applicable state law, and in addition to be aware of the legal qualifications for marriage and any license and reporting requirements prescribed by state law.

A Florida court ruled that a couple that was "married" in a religious ceremony that did not comply with the requirements for a valid marriage specified in state law was not lawfully married. A couple participated in a religious marriage ceremony in Oregon, and later relocated to Florida. They never applied for or obtained a government issued marriage license. They also never paid a government fee to get civilly married, never supplied their vital statistics ...

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  • March 1, 2010