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Putative Marriage

What You Need to Know About Putative Marriages

What You Need to Know About Putative Marriages

One reason why an individual may enter a putative marriage with someone instead of a traditional one is if they are unsure of how to fix their own legal dilemma, or unwilling to invest the time and money that it will take to fix their legal problem. Often, an old marriage that was never legally eradicated will render the new marriage null and void. On the other hand, if an individual is unaware that  previous marriage has not been legally voided, then both spouses will be putative, as long as it can be proven that the individual did not know that he or she was still married. 
       Another reason that one may knowingly enter a putative marriage is for financial gain. Some traditional marriage values depend on the income of the spouse one is marrying. While romanticized views of marriage may mistake this for alimonychildren
       A third reason that one may find themselves in a putative marriage a technical matter such as the legitimacy of the individual officiating the marriage ceremony. If the individual was found to be unlicensed for performing marriages in that state, then the couple should have no trouble entering a traditional marriage by having a new wedding ceremony. Once the legal problem is gone, then the marriage can become valid. No marriage that is a putative marriage can become valid until the legal impediment is gone.
Using the laws that govern putative marriage to free oneself from an individual without having to suffer the financial losses may be necessary, depending on the circumstances. However, it is also likely that both parties are in the dark about the circumstances of their putative marriage.

Learn About the Application for Putative Marriage

Learn About the Application for Putative Marriage

The marriage laws that govern putative marriages vary from state to state. However, the general guidelines of putative marriage law remain the same. There are three well known conditions that must exist within a marriage for putative marriage laws to apply. One of these marriage laws is that at least one of the individuals in the marriage must have been unaware of the existence of the technicality that negates the marriage’s validity.

If both parties in the marriage knew that it was technically not legal, than they are both at fault and neither is entitled to anything from the other. That type of marriage is not considered putative, as marriage law clearly states that at least one individual in the marriage must be completely unaware that the technicality existed for that marriage to fall into the putative category.

In a continuance of the first marriage law governing putative marriage, the ignorant individual must have been ignorant of the technicality at the time of the marriage as well as for the duration of it. This regulation is based on the idea that any spouse who finds out that his or her partner is purposely lying to him or her and misrepresenting a marriage should leave the deceitful partner.

The second marriage law for determining if a marriage is putative is that the marriage must have been officiated by an individual licensed to marry couples in the couple’s state or otherwise capable of performing a legal marriage. If the marriage was not brought about in a legal fashion, then the marriage was never legal in the first place. Theoretically, if the spouses were misled by an officiating party that did not have the right to perform a legally sanctioned individual, then they might be able to receive damages from that party, and might still be granted some form of putative status with regard to one another, up until the point of discovery.

Lastly under marriage laws, the marriage itself must be considered to be a lawful one by the putative spouse or spouses. A lawful marriage is one in which both parties are of legal age and mental capacity to marry.

Any marriage that is entered into legally is governed by marriage laws. Even though a putative marriage is technically not a legal marriage, proof of the three conditions being met is enough to grant typical divorce rights to that of the putative, or fooled, spouse. A putative spouse can sue for alimony and rights to assets under marriage law.

Do Other Countries Have Putative Marriages?

Do Other Countries Have Putative Marriages?

Most countries recognize international marriage as a result of the Hague Convention on Celebration and Recognition of the Validity of Marriages of 1978.  While all countries are free to make their own laws regarding traditional marriage of tourists, every country that signed the Hague Convention is legally obligated to recognize a marriage that took place in another country signed on to the Hague Convention, as long as the marriage is legal.

A putative marriage is one that is thought to be traditional at some point. Since one or both parties are unaware that the marriage is not legitimate, any laws that apply to international marriage may still stand. Putative marriages are recognized in some form in almost all of the United States. In Europe, the concept of putative marriage is widely acknowledged. 

Laws exist to protect the putative spouse, since he or she is thought to be innocent in the matter. There are also laws to help any children of a putative union. For the most part, even the strict Canon Laws grant legitimacy to any child born into a putative marriage, even though that child was technically born to an unmarried couple.

Other countries have similar standards as America when it comes to defining a putative marriage. The same three conditions of a putative marriage apply in other countries.

Is a Putative Marriage a Civil Marriage?

Is a Putative Marriage a Civil Marriage?

Unlike a civil marriage, which is a legal marriage without religious affiliations, a putative marriage is not legally recognized by the government. A putative marriage will often start off by looking exactly like a civil marriage, especially because the putative couple will likely obtain a marriage license. This marriage license is technically null and void, however, according to the definition of putative marriage. 


When a man or a woman enters a putative marriage, he or she thinks that he or she is entering into a regular civil marriage. It may take days or years to discover that the marriage is actually not legally supported.


Again, a putative marriage will likely be thought of as a civil marriage by external observers, and even by the spouses involved. At least one individual in the relationship must be unaware that the couple does not possess a valid marriage license for it to be considered a putative marriage. Because of this, the spouse that does not realize the falseness of the marriage is entitled to all the rights of a spouse who is seeking divorce with a civil marriage.


Laws about putative marriages are designed to protect the putative, or deceived, spouse. In a civil marriage, each spouse may be protected under laws to make sure that if the marriage ends, neither is left without a fair settlement. But in a case involving a putative marriage, only the putative spouse is protected. Although the marriage is not legitimate, the fact that one spouse, at least, both obtained a marriage license and believed in the validity of that marriage license proves that the spouse deserves putative status.


Sometimes both spouses are putative, which means that neither had any idea that a legal impediment was standing in the way of the marriage’s validity. In this instance, removing the legal impediment will make the marriage license valid. This would also retroactively validate the marriage license, such that it would be considered valid from the date on which the couple obtained the marriage license onward. 


This allows the couple to avoid the process of obtaining a new marriage license. Once the marriage is validated, the couple is officially considered to be in a legal civil marriage.

A Full Explanation of Putative Marriage

A Full Explanation of Putative Marriage

The word putative is defined as being an alleged, implied or presumed idea that is accepted as being true. A putative marriage is one that does not have any real legal standing but was entered into in good faith by at least one participant. A putative marriage may have originally looked like a civil marriage, for example, but would actually be invalid. Additionally, a putative marriage is not a common law marriage.

Common law marriage is a legal marriage that is usually based on the time in a relationship and actions of a couple. There is no actual legality in a putative marriage, although the individuals in such a marriage may believe that they are legally married.

Due to the complicated nature of a putative marriage, legal measures have been set forth to protect the individuals involved in such a marriage. Sometimes only one spouse can obtain putative status, as only one spouse would have been falsely led to believe that his or her marriage was legal. A common reason for a marriage to be putative is that one spouse is still legally married to someone else.

If one marriage contract is still open, then the newest one is null and void. However, because of the good faith that the putative spouse exhibited when entering the marriage, he or she is legally protected in case of such an event. He or she is able to seek financial support such as alimony payments  and division of joint property. A spouse without putative status is unable to legally seek financial assistance from his or her former partner.

A putative spouse is one who enters the marriage in good faith. If one partner enters the marriage while knowingly deceiving the other partner about a fact that would make the marriage null and void, that partner is not considered to be a putative spouse. Only the spouse who was misled is protected. The putative spouse can sue for damages but the other spouse cannot. If both spouses are putative, meaning that both entered the marriage in good faith and a technicality prevented them from having a legal marriage, then the marriage can be made valid with the removal of that technicality.

This is especially true in regards to Canon Law, which are laws that govern the Catholic Church. Every marriage that is granted by the Catholic Church is legitimate until proven otherwise. If a marriage is proven to be illegitimate then an annulment can be granted or the marriage can be authenticated when the problem is removed.

Most laws that involve putative marriage are civil laws. Again, civil laws that govern putative marriage will often grant the marriage immediate validity if the legal problem within the marriage is removed. There is usually no need to have a wedding ceremony again. Most states in America have laws that govern putative marriages.

Putative Marriage Differences Between State Laws

Putative Marriage Differences Between State Laws

Almost every state in America has some type of state law that deals with However, while most states have state laws that define the concept of a putative spouse, only two states recognize both common law marriages and putative marriages. These states are Colorado and Montana. Their definitions of putative marriage are still significantly similar to the definitions provided by the state laws of other states. 

A typical way of defining a putative spouse would be as any individual who lived with another person under the pretense of marriage, while believing that he or she was married. According to most state laws, the putative spouse is expected to file for a divorce when the fraud is discovered. When a putative spouse finds out that the marriage is a fraud, he or she becomes aware of the fact that he or she is not really married and is not allowed to sue for any asset that is acquired after this time.

State laws concerning putative marriage exist to protect the putative spouse. Since the putative spouse is the one who believed that the marriage was legally binding, it is generally thought that they should be protected as much as any legitimate spouse would be under regular marital laws. A state law regarding division of property will affect a putative spouse in the same way that it would a regular spouse when seeking financial gain at the end of a marriage. A spouse going through a divorce has the same rights regarding joint property as a putative spouse.

The main difference in laws regarding putative spouses and laws regarding divorced spouses is the length of time for which the suing spouse can claim division of property. A spouse seeking a divorce can try to obtain property that was acquired before and during the marriage. A putative marriage is over as soon as the putative spouse finds out about the fraudulent activities that void the marriage. Putative spouses usually are not granted any asset that was acquired before the putative marriage began.

Is Putative Marriage Found In Case Law?

Is Putative Marriage Found In Case Law?

 According to statistics, over a third of all people in the United States are likely to divorce their first spouse. Before marriage, if a couple decides to prepare itself for possible marriage trouble, the couple may choose to sign a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement protects each spouse’s assets from being unfairly divided in case of divorce. 

Some prenuptial agreements will stop an individual from getting anything in the case of divorce, depending on the circumstances. But case law surrounding putative marriages defines the interaction between a prenuptial agreement and a putative marriage in a very different light than this standard use of prenuptial agreements.

Most cases of putative marriage have similar results, with the putative spouse receiving restitution from the non-putative spouse. Most of the law that relates to putative marriage comes from the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act. The Canon laws

When one discovers that he or she is a putative spouse, he or she will most likely go to court in order to annul the marriage. If he or she is seeking financial help, then he or she may have to go through official divorce proceedings.

Find the Right Putative Marriage Lawyer

Find the Right Putative Marriage Lawyer


The best lawyer to hire regarding any family court matter is a child or marriage lawyer. A marriage lawyer will be more aware of any legal family rights that one may have than any other type of lawyer. Any marriage questions that one has are best answered by a marriage lawyer. A marriage lawyer is aware of what the consequences of being in a putative marriage will be.

To find a marriage lawyer who is experienced in putative marriages, one could try checking their local phone book or doing a Internet search. Divorce is very common and there are many lawyers that are experienced enough to handle a divorce case. Putative marriage tends to be a more complicated matter. 

If one seeks a marriage lawyer to help them in dissolving their putative marriage, it is likely that the lawyer will petition the courts to seek an annulment rather than a standard divorce. In rare cases, divorce proceedings may be needed to separate legally, but usually an annulment will be granted without divorce proceedings. It is the job of the marriage lawyer to look out for the client's best interests. 

If the putative marriage has been a long one, then it is common for the putative spouse to seek alimony and a division of assets. An individual can still be entitled to these things if they are awarded an annulment. 

If one wishes to dissolve their putative marriage, they should request a consultation with an experienced family lawyer so that they can ask any divorce or marriage questions they have. State law varies in terms of rules and regulations when it comes to handling putative marriages. Most states do have laws set up to protect the putative spouse, since they are considered to be the innocent party. An experienced marriage lawyer should be able to answer any questions that the putative spouse has about the process of ending the union.

If an individual has any doubts about what to do following the realization that they are in a putative marriage, then they should consult with a marriage lawyer immediately. Some putative spouses may be entitled to the same financial support that any other individual getting a divorce may be entitled to.

Putative Marriage Versus Common Law Marriage

Putative Marriage Versus Common Law MarriageWhen someone is a putative spouse, they are unaware that their marriage is not legal. They may act as they are married for years, unaware of the fact that due to a legal impediment, they 

have never been married. A common law spouse is aware that he or she is not technically married.

Common law marriages and putative marriages are not considered to be real marriages. However, they are both usually legally binding in many state courts, depending on the jurisdiction. Both common law and putative spouses generally have legal rights that are similar to a regular spouse.

Common law marriages are not licensed marriages. Although putative ones are not licensed either, they are assumed to be. For a couple to pursue a common law marriage, they must vow to live as husband and wife would. This means that they both have to be legally able to marry each other. Neither can be married to anyone else, and both spouses must be of legal age. 
Common law marriage is only possible when both the husband and wife are legally able to be married. 

A putative marriage follows the same standards, since it is like a regular marriage. However, it may be one of these factors that makes it a putative marriage. If a couple is married and one spouse finds out that their previous divorce is not completed, they have been in a putative marriage. 

Putative spouses are allowed to sue their spouses for financial support and assets. Since the putative spouse is unaware that they are in a false marriage, legal rights have been set up to help protect them. If one partner in a putative marriage has been lied to and fooled into falsely marrying, they have almost every right that a regular spouse has when seeking divorce damages.

Both of these alternative marriages follow many of the same guidelines as regular marriages. Common law marriages are even recognized by the IRS. Both marriages need some form of legal resolution if they end. However, spouses entering a common law marriage are aware that the marriage they are entering is not a standard one, while one or both partners in a putative marriage do not know.