Are You Sure You’re Married? A Lesson Learned in Court of Appeals


Are you sure you’re married? How could you not know if you’re married?

Excellent question. I’ll tell you how:

In the recent Court of Appeals of Virginia case MacDougall v. Levick/Levick v. MacDougall, a man and woman (notice how they aren’t referred to as husband and wife) had a marriage ceremony performed in Virginia by an officiant licensed by the Commonwealth. However, they did so prior to obtaining a marriage license. According to the trial court and the Court of Appeals, this made all the difference in the world. Despite the parties obtaining their marriage license 16 days after their wedding ceremony, living together for over 8 years, entering into a marital agreement to deal with their divorce or separation should it occur, and doing all other things to hold themselves out as husband and wife; not to mention sincerely believing they were married, the Virginia Court of Appeals determined they were not.