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Nebraska Case Underscores Importance of Knowing and Understanding State Marriage Laws

Ministers who ordain a marriage that results in a bigamous relationship can face criminal sanctions.


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 to be aware of the legal qualifications for marriage and any license and reporting requirements prescribed by state law.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that where a Nebraska marriage license was obtained, but one of the participants was still legally married to someone else when the solemnization (ceremony) occurred in Texas, a bigamy prosecution was still proper.


On June 29, 2015, a man (the “defendant”) completed a marriage worksheet at a local county clerk’s office in Nebraska and paid the requisite fee. A clerk watched the defendant and “Wife ...

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  • September 16, 2022

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