A marriage by definition is a union between a man and a woman. Every state has different requirements with respect to becoming legally and statutorily married. For example, in Michigan a couple is required to obtain their marriage license prior to their marriage date because there is a three-day waiting period from the time that the couple applies for the license and when it is issued. Some states require the couples to take health or HIV awareness classes, a blood test, or have certain residency requirements.
Plural, Bigamous or Polygamous Marriage
A bigamous marriage is one in which one or both parties enter into another marriage although one or both of the parties are legally married. Bigamy is a criminal offense in most states. The party committing the bigamous act may be criminally prosecuted. When more than two husbands or wives are involved the parties have committed polygamy. Bigamy is a more frequently used term.
Same Sex, Proxy, and Incestuous Marriages
In most states a same sex marriage is not recognized as a legally valid marriage. Some states are beginning to change their view on same sex marriages and have permitted civil ceremonies to occur between same sex partners. A proxy marriage is one in that the parties were not physically present at the time their union took place. This type of marriage is contracted or celebrated through agents acting for one or both of the parties involved. An incestuous marriage is one a marriage between two close blood family members. Most states prohibit such marriages and one may be a prosecuted for a crime in some states.
Void vs. Voidable Marriage
A voidable marriage is one that is valid when it was entered into and which remains valid until either party dissolves the marriage. A void marriage on the other hand is a marriage that was not valid from its inception. Both a bigamous or incestuous marriage constitutes a void marriage. A void or voidable marriage can be annulled.
Types of Voidable Marriages
There are various types of voidable marriages. Depending upon the jurisdiction, some types of voidable marriages include:
• Underage marriages.
• Lack of necessary consent to marry.
• Lack of mental capacity to contract to marriage.
A putative spouse is a spouse who in good faith believes that their marriage is valid. Often times a putative spouse has rights afforded to parties in a valid marriage because they were unaware that the marriage was not valid, although the other party was aware that the marriage was not valid.