A recent survey found that 6 in 10 women who had Muslim religious weddings are not in legal marriages, depriving them of spousal rights. Many people have religious weddings, and don’t get a marriage license. What is the importance of the marriage license, and is the religious ceremony enough?
According to the London Guardian, nearly all married Muslim women have had a nikah, a religious marriage ceremony.
However, about 61% had not gone through a separate civil ceremony which would make the marriage legal.
If you have a religious marriage only, and the marriage breaks down, you may be unable to go to family court to divide marital assets, such as the family home and your spouse’s pension.
This trend of having a religious ceremony, but no civil marriage license, is becoming a problem as more people think having religious marriage ceremony is enough.
Florida Marriage Law
I’ve written about marriage validity, and the intersection between religious marriage and civil marriage before. First off, in order to be validly married in Florida, you need a license from the government.
No, you don’t get your marriage license from the DMV, but from the Clerk of the Court.
Getting a marriage license may seem like a trivial obligation, but if you want your religious marriage recognized in court, you must get a marriage license.
There is a fee for getting a marriage license, and that fee is reduced for attending pre-marital counseling. The license is valid for 60 days. The officiant at the ceremony must certify that the marriage was solemnized.
The certified marriage license must be returned to the clerk or an issuing judge within 10 days, and the clerk or judge is required to keep a correct record of certified marriage licenses.
Florida courts have repeatedly warned people that they cannot depart from the requirement of the Florida Statutes to have a license, otherwise the courts would be creating common-law marriages, which are not recognized here.
If you only have the religious marriage, but do not file for a marriage license, your marriage will not likely be recognized, and you cannot divorce, and cannot make claims for equitable distribution, or ask a court for alimony.
That can be a devastating surprise for many people.
Religious Only Marriages
Every religion has there own method of marrying. For Catholics, the celebration normally takes place within a Mass. In Judaism, there’s a marriage contract, a marriage canopy, and the breaking of a glass. In the Islamic nikah, there is a reading from the Qur’an, and the exchange of vows in front of witnesses.
Religious marriage without a license, is not only a major problem, but a growing problem.
Religious marriages are also easier to terminate than legally registered marriages, so marriage has become easy and divorce has become easy. It’s a disturbing trend.
Generally in Florida, regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with some church, or other ordained clergy, and all judicial officers, clerks of the circuit courts, and notaries public may solemnize the rights of matrimonial contract, under the law.
The Guardian article is here.