Legitimate marriage by proxy over the telephone

Married in an unusual manner, one Maryland couple is now seeking divorce in the normal way. In 1993, the couple married over the telephone with the man’s cousin standing in as a proxy for the ceremony. The husband listened in to the ceremony and answered the marriage questions and vows via telephone from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, thousands of miles away.

The couple is now seeking divorce, and in ruling in favor of it, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals also validated the ability to marry by proxy and telephone within the state. The husband will be responsible for both alimony and child support following the 15 year marriage.

The court ruled that the ceremony counted as a valid marriage just like any other marriage ceremony. In the decision, the court noted that Maryland law does not forbid recognizing marriage by proxy since it was valid in a different jurisdiction. Maryland has a history of granting divorces to marriages that while not necessarily legal in the state, are legal in the jurisdiction in which they were performed.

Marriage by proxy is unusual but not unprecedented. Often times, it is the only way in which a couple is able to perform their ceremony. This occurs most frequently with military marriages and foreign work situations where one party is unable to be present but wishes to be married prior to returning home.

In seeking a family law attorney, should you be faced with the possibility of divorce, it is a good idea to find one that you feel comfortable with and trust to partner with you in protecting your rights and interests in all the forthcoming legal matters. Likewise, if seeking to protect yourself prior to marriage through a prenuptial agreement, please consult with a family law attorney.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Marriage over telephone valid, Maryland court rules,” Andrea F. Siegel, Nov. 26, 2012

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