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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Default Legally married?

    20 years ago, I was 18, pregnant, terrified, and in love, I was advised by my mother that no marriage license was required for us to be legally married. She got her information from a friend who is a lawyer. We were married in a formal ceremony by an ordaned minister and I have a certificate signed by the minister and 2 witnesses. I was able to use that certificate to obtain a SS card with my married name on it. We have filed taxes as married filing jointly for the past 20 years. We have 2 children together. We have a mortgage that lists us as husband and wife. We have lived as a married couple in absolutely every sense except for the license. Now I find out that my husband is having an affair. He has moved out of our home, though most of his belongings are still here. He took only what he would need for a short vacation. I'm wondering if our marraige is legal at all. We live in Tenn. and have for the entire 20 years. Everything we have is owned jointly. I'm worried that he has no legal obligation to me. Is he free to get married or do we need some sort of legal action.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Default Tennessee - Marriage by Estoppel

    Under Tennessee law, you are probably married:
    Quote Quoting Martin v. Coleman, 19 S.W.3d 757 (S.Ct Tn 2000)
    Our courts have recognized marriage by estoppel when parties have believed in the validity of their marriage and have evidenced that belief by cohabitation. Rambeau, 212 S.W.2d at 361. The doctrine of marriage by estoppel is applied in exceptional cases. It does not apply in cases where the parties knowingly live together in an unmarried state and are privileged to discontinue that relationship at will. Crawford, 277 S.W.2d at 392.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005


    Thank you for your response. I have never questioned the legality of our marraige until he cheated. I really appreciate it.

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