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.