Are we legally married?

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Are we legally married?

I had a religious ceremony last year but we never obtained a marriage license prior to or filed a certificate after. We had tried to arrange a pre-nup before marriage and did not get it figured out before the ceremony date so did not file for a license. Then after the ceremony, we never filed anything and within a few months the relationship started falling apart. We have never lived together and due to our inability to remedy our problems, we are considering going our separate ways. What does this mean for us legally? Are we legally married? Do we need to file something now? Or can we just ‘break-up’ and go our separate ways? Thank you for your help.

Asked on June 24, 2016 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In your state, the only way to marry someone is civilly--that is, to get a marriage license and the ceremony performed by someone authorized  by law to perform it. A religous ceremony may have great personal or emotional meaning, but it has no legal effect by itsel. Based on what you write, you are not married and can go your separate ways.


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