If someone didn’t put their legal maiden name on a marriage certificate when they applied for it and then had a ceremony, is that marriage legally binding?

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If someone didn’t put their legal maiden name on a marriage certificate when they applied for it and then had a ceremony, is that marriage legally binding?

Asked on September 15, 2011 under Family Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

For a definitive answer, you should consult with a family or matrimonial law attorney, who can evaluate all the facts and the certificate itself.

That said, as a general matter, an error in using a name will typically not invalidate agreements or contracts, marriage certificates/licenses, or other paperwork. So if, for example, the woman had been previously married and had accidently (through habit?) used her prior married  name even though it was not then her legal name; or was  in the habit of going by some other name in business or her profession and used that name, that would not invalidate the marriage if there was no genuine question as to her identify. (The error should still be corrected, however, to avoid any complications.)

On the other hand, if this was a deliberate attempt to misidentify herself or commit fraud (e.g. the groom wouldn't have married her if he knew who she really was), then that might invalidate the marriage; it therefore depends on the circumstances, but, as stated, if an error or oversight, is probably not a major problem, just something to be fixed.


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