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Questions about Putative Marriage Doctrine

A putative spouse is a person who thinks he/she is legally married to someone, but isn’t, due to some legal reason. For example, a woman who marries an already married man in good faith, without knowing of the previous marriage, she would be a putative spouse and such a marriage would be a putative marriage. If you find yourself in a situation that may render your marriage a putative marriage, you can take your questions about marriage law to lawyers on JustAnswer. Below are five of the top questions about putative marriages, answered by Lawyers on JustAnswer.

Is living together for several years considered a putative marriage?

Living together does not necessarily mean that you are married. In most cases, it just means that you are cohabitating. Without a ceremony or a marriage license, there is usually no legally binding marriage. A putative marriage is when a couple actually thinks they are legally married but due to some technical flaw, the marriage is not legal.

If you get married before a previous marriage has ended in a divorce, is the second marriage legitimate?

If a person gets married before a divorce is final, regardless of where you get married, the marriage is usually not valid due to the legally binding previous marriage. However, if you are able to prove that you married the person in good faith and knew nothing of the previous marriage, you can have what is known as a “putative Marriage”. This will benefit you in the event that you have invested several years as a married couple. This will allow you to be granted all of the benefits of marriage, including sharing marital property, marital accounts and even spousal support. You will however have to prove that this was actually a putative marriage entered into without knowledge of the binding legal standing of the previous marriage. Family Lawyers on JustAnswer can assess the details of your case and provide their expert insights to help you determine your best legal course of action.

Is a marriage legal if one of the spouses is married to another person at the time of the marriage but the person later dies?

Regardless of the events, if the person was not legally divorced at the time of the second marriage, the second marriage is usually considered void and you would have to remarry to give it legal recognition. However, if one or both parties entered the marriage in good faith and can prove the good faith in court, then they may be able to receive putative rights. If you have questions about your putative rights family lawyers on JustAnswer can assess the details of your case and provide you their expert legal insights. Family law Experts are waiting to answer your questions in a fast and insightful manner.

What should a couple do if they realize that the marriage is putative and should they notify the IRS or the court?

Many times, couples say their nuptials and go on with life as they know it, only to find out years later that they are not legally married. This usually comes to light during divorce proceedings and can be both unsettling and can have significant legal implications on the marriage. If it can be proven that you believed in good faith that you were married, there may be no consequences with the IRS or the courts. Because there was a ceremony and both parties actually believed they were married, the couple can sue each other for separation of the community assets under the theory of putative marriage. If both parties can agree on the division of all of the property, there would be no need to even go to court. After everything has been divided, you would each begin filing tax returns individually with your marital status as single.

What is the best recourse if the person who performs a wedding isn’t licensed and the ceremony was never consummated?

The best way to dissolve a putative marriage is to contact the family law division of the superior court and request a divorce packet. However, if the marriage was never consummated, marriage annulment may also be an option. An annulment is a determination by the court that the marriage was never valid, as if it never took place.

Marriage can be a beautiful experience, but it can sometimes end up being a legal nightmare. Questions about legal standings aren’t always easy to ask friends and you may not always want to involve an attorney. One solution under such circumstances is to bring your legal questions to Lawyers on JustAnswer. A verified Lawyer can assess your case and provide legal insights into the best options for you.
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