Can the state be held liable for issuing a marriage license to someone already married?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can the state be held liable for issuing a marriage license to someone already married?

My husband recently passed away and after his
death I found out that he was still married to his
second wife at the time of our marriage. Since his
marriage to his precut wife as well as to me was in
the same county how could the state have issued the
license? This has been very upsetting to me and I
think the state of NC as well as my late husband is
responsible for this mess.

Asked on January 15, 2017 under Family Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The state does not check records to make sure that people are not already married; that is the responsibility of the persons getting married, not of the government. As such, the state has no liability for presiding over a marriage when one or more of the participants are concurrently married.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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