Maryland court rules couple married over phone legal

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Divorce on Friday, November 30, 2012.

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently ruled that you do not need to be physically present at your wedding for it to be legal. The court ruling not only impacts the spouse's requirement to pay alimony and child support but it could impact future divorce cases in Maryland.

A Montgomery County man claimed that his marriage wasn't legal after his wife of 18 years recently filed for divorce in Maryland. The couple was married in 1993 in the Congo. The American man was working on assignment in another country in Africa so he was not present at the wedding. Court records show that his cousin represented him during the marriage ceremony while he listened on the phone. After the wedding, his wife moved back with him to Maryland.

While this type of marriage is unusual, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled it was recognized under state law. The court said that the type of ceremony would also be valid in Maryland so the wife is able to file for divorce and request alimony and child support.

Maryland Court of Appeals said that their ruling may have a substantial impact on future divorce cases that involve distant marriages. Judges said that due to modern employment requirements, couples may be apart for long period of times and may make personal participation in the marriage ceremony not possible.

Future cases may include disputes over the marriages being legal but if the state recognizes this type of distant marriage, there may be little to dispute in future cases since the court ruled this type of marriage ceremony is valid.

Source: Washington Examiner, "Wedding absence doesn't get Maryland man off hook for alimony, court says," Brian Hughes, Nov. 24, 2012