ILNews

Court rules on out-of-state marriages

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Even if a marriage is questionable in another state, Indiana will recognize that marriage if it complies with Hoosier law.

An Indiana Supreme Court ruling late Tuesday gave that answer in Emma McPeek, et al. v. Charles McCardle, No. 58S01-0708-CV-305, which hails from Ohio Circuit Court and involves a technical issue regarding a couple not having an official out-of-state marriage license when they wed in Ohio, even though they'd had one from Indiana.

The plaintiff-appellants in this case sued following their mother's death in 2004 and contended that a marriage between Edwina VanTyle and Charles McCardle in 1994 was void and that the children were proper owners of one-half the farm that'd been in the family for three generations. VanTyle and McCardle were both Indiana residents and obtained a marriage license in Ohio County, and then went to Ohio for the marriage ceremony. The reverend was authorized to solemnize marriages in that state and completed a marriage certificate from Indiana, but not one for that state. The children alleged the marriage was void since not having a marriage license there violated Ohio law.

The Indiana trial judge granted a motion to dismiss for the husband on grounds that the daughter, Emma McPeek, didn't have standing; the judge concluded the marriage was voidable - not void - by Indiana law. The Court of Appeals affirmed last year and the justices have now done the same, but on a different legal theory.

Relying on caselaw that stretches back more than a half-century, the Supreme Court pointed out that unless strong public policy exceptions require otherwise, the law of a place where a marriage occurs generally determines the validity of a marriage. It found nothing indicating that Ohio marriages without a license violate the state law, though it noted the marriage could be seen as "defective."

Indiana justices were reluctant to rule solely because of what Ohio law says, pointing out that the high court there hasn't addressed this issue in 50 years and its intermediate appellate court last touched on this more than 30 years ago.

Instead, the court relied on Indiana law as the two lived here before and after the marriage ceremony and that both likely anticipated the marriage would be valid.

"We conclude that where, as here, a couple has complied with Indiana's statutory requirements regarding marriage licenses, certificates, and solemnization, such that the marriage would have been valid if solemnized in this state, we will recognize the marriage as valid even if the marriage ceremony took place in another state and didn't comply with that state's law or public policy," Justice Robert Rucker wrote.

Justices were quick to point out that state law already voids a marriage if Indiana residents go to another state to solemnize a marriage with the intent to evade either state's law. The opinion also encourages couples to check the legal requirements when exploring out-of-state marriages, and that those individuals should re-solemnize their marriage in Indiana to avoid future validity questions.
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  1. Oh, the name calling was not name calling, it was merely social commentary making this point, which is on the minds of many, as an aside to the article's focus: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111082327AAmlmMa Or, if you prefer a local angle, I give you exhibit A in that analysis of viva la difference: http://fox59.com/2015/03/16/moed-appears-on-house-floor-says-hes-not-resigning/

  2. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  3. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  4. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  5. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

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