Marriage Confusion – What is Putative Marriage?
Marriage is a sacred and wonderful institution between two people who love each other. But it can also be the basis for plenty of confusion in the legal system, especially if entered into unlawfully.
Believe it or not, illegal marriages happen all the time. And one is called Putative Marriage.
Putative Marriage is interesting – and confusing – in that it is a marriage (ceremonial or informal) that is entered into in good faith by one or both parties. In other words, the husband and/or wife truly believes they did everything right and that they are, in fact, legally married in the eyes of the state. But they aren’t.
The union is not considered valid because of a legal impediment, such as an undissolved prior marriage. Therefore, the couple must either do what is needed to make the marriage legitimate or end it completely.
The good news is that once the impediment is removed, the marriage is deemed valid.
A harsh reality is that more often than not, only one spouse is unaware of a Putative Marriage, which means they have likely been deceived by the other partner.
To that end, the law protects the innocent spouse – so long as they have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they entered into the marriage in good faith – by defining the marriage as Putative. A Putative spouse has the same rights of a lawful spouse to property acquired during the relationship.
A Putative Marriage lasts as long as the above-mentioned elements exist. A Putative Marriage ends when the impediment is removed.
Note: Good faith is the essential element of a Putative Marriage. If a spouse is unaware of a prior marriage that still exists, good faith is presumed. Once a spouse is aware of a legal impediment, good faith requires the spouse to investigate and notify the courts immediately to be protected under Putative laws.
Clear as mud? I would be remiss if I didn’t say please seek immediate legal advice from a qualified family law attorney – such as our team here at Nelson Law Group PC – if you find yourself in a possible Putative Marriage. Having someone in your corner who is experienced in family law cases will give you an edge in successfully presenting your innocent spouse defense and protect your rights throughout a potential court case.
Stay tuned for the next blog from Nelson Law Group. Thanks for visiting.