Destination Weddings and US Divorce

A listener wants to know what happens if he never filed a marriage certificate in the United States after he returned from his destination wedding. I’m Amy E. Feldman.

It’s wedding season, and if you’re having a destination wedding, you’ll be interested in the question sent in by Alex from New Jersey, who was married in St. Lucia. Upon the couple’s return, they never notified the US Clerk of their marriage. They later separated. Alex contacted the local courthouse and was told it has no record of the marriage, so Alex wants to know if the marriage is even considered valid under US law. 

Sad for you, Alex, the answer is yes. Marriages that are legally performed and valid abroad are considered legally valid in the United States. So you don’t have to file the marriage certificate if the marriage was performed outside the state, which is why it’s very common that a courthouse wouldn’t have a record of it. Which does not mean it wasn’t a valid marriage so you have to get a divorce if you want to put it behind you.

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