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Double-checking the legality of your marriage before divorce

Thinking back on your wedding day may bring up a mix of emotions. This is especially true if you are thinking of ending your marriage in a divorce. Relationships don't always work. However, in order to qualify for divorce, you have to be legally married.

Shouldn't you be legally married? The minister was there and the document signed - right? Turns out, Tennessee is a state that doesn't recognize or honor marriages performed by ministers ordained online through sites such as Universal Life Church. The website is one of many that advertises a multi-denominational religious organization that makes it quick and easy to become ordained online. The site advertises that a person that passes the program may perform functions any other minister can perform, such as marriages.

Unfortunately, Tennessee state law says that isn't so. If married through a minister who was ordained through this program, this would mean the marriage is not valid and thus not a legally-binding marriage after all. Therefore, a divorce would not be possible as there is no marriage to dissolve. While this news can be a shock, it could go either way as the couple may not know what to expect or how to proceed with ending what they thought was a legally binding marriage.

Nearly all weddings in Tennessee are going to be legally binding, so the loophole will likely only apply to a select few. State law is the defining power as to whether a person is in fact legally married. Abiding by state divorce laws and regulation is key to a speedy and effective divorce solution for you and your family.

Source:, "Are you sure you're really married? It might be worth taking a look at who married you," Ron Maxey, March 12, 2018

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Miller Law Firm

701 17th Street NW
Cleveland, TN 37311

Phone: 423-464-6852
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