Friends or Spouses?

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced that they are going to file for divorce after two and a half years of marriage. However, some news outlets report they can’t locate the Friends’ star’s marriage license to see if they were even married. What would happen if you find out you were not married?

Friends Like Us

Irrespective of the status of their marriage license, according to news reports, the decision to divorce appears to have been mutual:

“We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship.”

According to TMZ though: “We checked marriage records in L.A. County all the way back to 2010 and there is no record of a marriage license. There’s such a thing as a confidential marriage license, but we’re told they did NOT get one in L.A. County.”

Is Your Marriage Valid in Florida?

First off, common-law marriages have been abolished in Florida since 1968. In order to be validly married, you need a license. It may seem like a mere formality, but couples who want to be married must apply for a 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.

I have written about Florida marriages and divorces before. 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 re-creating common-law marriages.

In the event you do not obtain your marriage license, you cannot divorce. This means that certain rights can be lost. For example, you could not make claims for equitable distribution, and you could not ask a court for alimony. That can be a devastating result for many couples who unknowingly, are not married.

Central Perk

The report from TMZ sounds like ridiculously bad investigative journalism. Jennifer and Justin could have gotten a marriage license in any of the 57 other counties in California, or other states and even countries, and their marriage license would be valid.

But just because TMZ claims it spoke with some “Jen sources who have had regular contact with her for years, and they say there’s been talk for a long time they might not be legally married” does not prove or disprove anything.

According to the TMZ article:

“it’s certainly possible they’re legally married, but based on what we found, it’s possible they’re not.”

The TMZ article is here.