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Effect of Failure to File and Record a Marriage License in Arizona

Posted on : December 6, 2016, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
Effect of Failure to File and Record a Marriage License in Arizona

Effect of Failure to File and Record a Marriage License in Arizona

Without the issuance of a marriage license, a marriage is not valid. The question in the following case is whether or not the marriage is valid when a marriage license was issued, but never filed. The Court of Appeals of Arizona considered this issue in the unpublished case of Martinez v. Ilem.

A History of Martinez v. Ilem

Effect of Failure to File and Record a Marriage License in Arizona.

Effect of Failure to File and Record a Marriage License in Arizona.

In 1992 Martinez and Ilem participated in a wedding ceremony in California. In 2000, a brief separation followed marital troubles and Husband followed Wife to Arizona with intentions to reconcile the marriage. The couple did reconcile and the relationship lasted until 2014 when Husband filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
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Wife moved to dismiss asserting that they were never married since a marriage license was never issued in the state of California. Husband argued that the marriage license was issued, but was not filed or recorded due to the officiating minister’s mistake. Initially, the family court granted the motion to dismiss, but the court later reversed its order and reinstated the case. Wife appealed.

Martinez v. Ilem: On Appeal

After verifying jurisdiction, the Arizona Court of Appeals considered the appeal on this case and reviewed the trial court’s ruling regarding the motion to reinstate or to set aside (under Rule 60(c) and Rule 85(C)) for an abuse of discretion. As the entire wedding ceremony occurred in California and the couple did not have plans to move to Arizona until years later, California law controlled the resolution of the question of the validity of the marriage.

For a marriage to be valid in California it must meet five requirements (according to Sections 300 and 306 of the California Family Code): 1) the couple must consent to be married, 2) the couple is required to obtain a marriage license from the county clerk and a certificate of registry, 3) a person must solemnize the marriage and verify prior to the ceremony that the couple obtained the marriage license, 4) the officiate must sign the certificate of registry and arrange for a witness to sign in order to authenticate the marriage, and 5) the officiate must return the signed document to the county clerk for filing.

Additionally, the California case of Estate of DePasse, 118 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 151-52, 154-55 establishes a marriage license is mandatory for a California marriage to be valid, but “noncompliance with part 2 by a nonparty to the marriage does not invalidate the marriage.” (Cal. Fam. Code Section 306; Estate of DePasse, 118 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 155).

In this case, there is a dispute of material fact regarding the existence of a marriage license, whether or not it was signed, filed or even issued. Wife states that while the couple applied for a marriage license, it was rejected and never refilled.

Results of Failing to File and Record a Marriage License in Arizona.

Results of Failing to File and Record a Marriage License in Arizona.

Husband claims that the couple learned of a clerical error regarding the marriage certificate eight years later when the couple experienced marital trouble. He further claims that a license was issued and appropriately signed by all parties, witnesses and the officiate and that he received a copy. He claims the marriage license he received went missing around the same time Wife left in January 2014 with most of the family files. This is around the same time Husband filed his Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

Husband claims he was unable to obtain a copy as the license was not appropriately recorded due to the officiate’s mistake (a nonparty to the marriage). An affidavit was provided showing that the county in which the marriage license application was filed purges applications for marriage licenses every two years.

Husband also provided the court with an affidavit from the officiate at the wedding stating that he regularly officiates, is positive that the couple presented him with a valid license prior to the ceremony, and that it was signed and the marriage authenticated with the certificate being sent back to the county clerk for filing. The person presiding over the wedding had no explanation for why the marriage certificate was not recorded by the county clerk.

The Court of Appeals of Arizona Concludes:

According to the record, there doesn’t appear to be an abuse of discretion on the part of the family court or any error in its decision to deny the motion for summary judgment. As there is an actual dispute of material fact in regards to the marriage license in question, the court could find that the problem in the recording of the marriage certificate was due to a nonparty error, in which case the trial court must then consider whether or not the marriage is valid under California law and thus entitled to comity under Arizona law.

Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
A Google User
A Google User
20:31 20 Sep 17
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
A Google User
A Google User
21:41 07 Nov 17
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
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14:58 04 Oct 17
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
A Google User
A Google User
16:03 22 Nov 17
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Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
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18:16 18 Sep 17
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I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
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I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
Bassam Ziadeh
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21:20 02 Apr 18
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Larry Flint
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21:53 27 Feb 18
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