Ponorovskaya v. Stecklow The Case of the Missing New York Marriage License for a Mexican Destination Wedding
A Brooklyn judge has adjudicated a couple unmarried even though they clearly thought that they were. In this divorce action in Kings County Supreme in Brooklyn, a Jewish couple’s Mexican destination wedding was invalid according to the judge because they failed to obtain a marriage license in New York and to have their marriage properly solemnized. Therefore since no marriage exists, they cannot get a divorce and worse, the wife cannot get equitable distribution and maintenance as she had requested in her petition. Apparently, though, there is no legal requirement in New York for a couple to have a marriage license. The reasoning was that the marriage also did not meet the legal requirement of Mexico where it was performed. Read this:
New York’s Domestic Relations Law §25, enacted in 1907, provides that a marriage is valid, even in the absence of a marriage license, if it was properly solemnized. However, New York County Supreme Court Justice Matthew F. Cooper, in his May 29, 2014 decision in Ponorovskaya v. Stecklow held that D.R.L. §25 could not be used to validate a marriage ceremony that failed to meet the legal requirements of Mexico where the ceremony was performed. While so holding, Justice Cooper called for the statute to be amended or repealed, and joined the debate on whether Universal Life Church “ministers” could “properly solemnize” marriages.
More can be read at New York attorney Neil Cahn’s blog at: http://www.divorceny.com/divorce/licenseless-mexican-marriage/