A Brief Look at Little Known Marriage and Divorce Laws in the U.S.

Here in the state of Texas, we have fairly straightforward laws governing divorce and divorce-related issues (i.e., child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, property division). This may lead you to believe that the other 49 states have similar laws and that the divorce processes are therefore comparable.

While this is certainly true in many respects, there are certain laws in certain states/cities that are very different from Texas law and even somewhat strange. Many of these laws are the byproduct of a bygone era or a dated legislative agenda.

Today’s post – the first in a series – will take a brief look at some of these laws.


When most people obtain an annulment – i.e., declare their marriage null and void – they list a fairly mundane reason such as marrying without the capacity to consent, duress, etc.

However, a person seeking an annulment in the state of Delaware has one particularly intriguing choice listed among these more mundane reasons: marrying “because of a jest or dare.”


One of the more peculiar aspects of life in the armed forces is that service members are permitted to legally marry their significant others through proxy marriages.

A proxy marriage is a ceremony in which someone stands in for the bride or groom. To illustrate, if a husband-to-be is deployed to Afghanistan, his friend or brother may represent him at the wedding.

Interestingly, certain states – including Texas, Colorado, California, and Montana – permit civilians to be legally married via proxy marriage. What makes Montana different, however, is that it permits double proxy marriages. Accordingly, neither the actual bride nor the actual groom need be present at the wedding ceremony.

South Carolina

While South Carolina’s Offenses Against Morality and Decency Act is fairly straightforward, it does have some provisions that are somewhat strange. For example, a man can be charged with “seduction under promise of marriage” if “by means of deception and promise of marriage [he] seduces an unmarried woman.” This means any man 16 years of age or older faces a fine and a maximum of one year in prison if he makes a fake marriage proposal.

To be continued

To learn more about divorce or life after divorce, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

Related Resources:

10 Obscure Marriage Laws (MSN)