Was My Marriage Legal?

When a relationship does not work out and a person begins to consider divorce, he or she may also question the legality of his or her marriage.

If you were married in the state of Illinois, there are certain qualifications that are required in order for you to be legally married. For example, you cannot marry any relative who is your first cousin or closer, although there are certain exceptions for cousins who have reached a certain age. Similarly, there are requirements regarding how old one must be in order to marry with or without parental consent. However, some issues that you think may render a marriage illegal do not actually have that effect. One question deals with a marriage officiant’s qualifications.

Who is Allowed to Perform Weddings in Illinois?

Unlike other states, Illinois is fairly liberal when it comes to allowing people to act as marriage officiants. A wedding can be performed by a judge, the Cook County circuit clerk, or “in accordance with the prescriptions of any religious denomination.”

If you are a religious individual and had a religious wedding officiated according to the tenants of a religious faith, the marriage will be deemed legal. However, as more and more people get married without belonging to a particular religious faith, many like the idea of having a friend become “ordained” by an online ministry. While some states like New York have made it difficult to have a friend or family member perform a wedding after being ordained online, Illinois allows Internet ministers to officiate weddings in the same way they would allow a clergy person from a more traditional faith to do so.

What Happens if the Person who Officiated an Illinois Wedding Was Not Qualified to Do So?

Technically, in Illinois, in order for a marriage to be valid it must meet three requirements. A marriage must be:

  1. Licensed (you have to obtain a marriage license and use it in the appropriate time frame in the appropriate county);
  2. Solemnized; and
  3. Registered.

The county clerk is the one who issues a marriage license and registers your marriage after your officiant returns the marriage license after your ceremony. Solemnization is the ceremony itself. There is no specific wording your officiant needs to use unless his or her religious tradition requires certain wording. Additionally, if it turns out that the officiant was not authorized to perform a marriage, that alone does not matter. The marriage will not be invalidated solely by the officiant’s lack of qualifications.

Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.

When you are going through a family law dispute, you deserve to have a passionate advocate on your side. That is why you should contact the DuPage County family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. When you call us at (630) 756-5112 we will schedule an appointment to discuss the details of your situation and determine how we can best be of help to you given your goals and priorities. Call us today.