What qualifies as a legal wedding or common law marriage?

Divorce attorney Jason BowmanQuestion:

I would like to know if I’m legally married. A while ago my ex-girlfriend and I participated in a nude “wedding” to win a free trip. She was still legally married at the time.

We lived together for many years as a couple but never had children, filed taxes as a married couple, shared insurance, or had an “official” ceremony. She has since left me and I have met a new woman that I wish to marry.

But in the eyes of the law, am I legally married to my ex? Was it a common law marriage?


First let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed to practice law in your state. Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide who would be happy to discuss your case with you.

In most states, if one person is married at the time of their second marriage, then the second marriage is void, since all states do not allow people to be married to multiple people. So it is possible that your “nude wedding” was not a legal wedding.

However, you state during the time that you were together she obtained a divorce and you continued to live together as husband and wife. So it may be possible that you would have a recognized common law marriage in your state.

However, you should consult an attorney to see if you meet the statutory requirements for a common law marriage, or if your arrangements would qualify.

I would recommend that prior to getting married again, that you consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction to make sure that you are not currently married and that you are able to legally marry the new love of your life.


Jason Bowman is an attorney in the Louisville, Kentucky, office of Cordell & Cordell. He is licensed in the states of Kentucky and Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Louisville, and received his Juris Doctor from Texas Wesleyan University.

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