When Parties marry, they are happy with one another, busy with wedding plans and have been known to let a detail or two fall through the cracks. Fast forward several years, and many of those happy couples find themselves divorcing. One key factor that can short circuit any divorce is the validity of a marriage. When parties get caught up in the whirlwind of wedding planning, forget to obtain a marriage license and proceed with the ceremony because the guests are waiting, they run the risk of never validating the marriage. Virginia Code Section 20-13 states that “Every marriage in this Commonwealth shall be under a license and solemnized in the manner herein provided.” Therefore the statute dictates that the happy couple must have the license in place when they wed. If parties fail to get the license in advance of their wedding, they must have a second ceremony with a valid officiant after obtaining their marriage license. Who can marry you? It must be a minister of any religious denomination who has proof of being ordained and in regular communication with the religious society of which he or she is a reputed member or proof that he is commissioned by a pastoral ministry or holds a local minister’s license. Also, a judge or justice or any retired judge may also perform a wedding ceremony.
The consequence of not following the statute regulating marriage is that you will not be married. Couples have gone on to live together for years, have children, acquire assets and liabilities, acquire credit in the other’s name, give up a career for the family and many other entwinements; however, a divorce court cannot grant support or divide assets if the parties were never married. Additionally, if there was a premarital agreement governing how parties will divide things when they divorce, that document will not be triggered either as a premarital agreement only becomes effective upon the legal marriage of the parties.
You cannot obtain your marriage license too early either. The license is only valid for sixty days. Never fail to plan.