Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
“Here is my question for DearEsq.’s Ask the Lawyer: my divorce was filed and granted by the judge 1/12/1983, a month prior to this date my attorney called me to say my divorce was final to enjoy and start my new life ! I did I married the man I have been with now for 25 years almost, we were married 12/12/1982 3o days before my divorce was final, because of much embarrassment at the time it has been kept a secret all these years,the husband of the first marriage is deceased,what do we need to do to get this marriage made legal or can we? all legal documents such as drivers licenes social security, insurance, home, etc. have my married name of the marriage on 12/12/1982 not my deceased husbands name. I live in the state of North Carolina.Please help 25 years has been way to long, tell us how to make it legal, thanks.”Get married. Basically, North Carolina Code S 51?3. Want of capacity; void and voidable marriages, provides in relevant part: “All marriages between any two persons nearer of kin than first cousins, or between double first cousins, or between a male person under 16 years of age and any female, or between a female person under 16 years of age and any male, or between persons either of whom has a husband or wife living at the time of such marriage, or between persons either of whom is at the time physically impotent, or between persons either of whom is at the time incapable of contracting from want of will or understanding, shall be void.” Since you had a husband at the time you were married, your marriage is void from its inception.
Question: If we were talking about a dissolution proceeding, I would be talking about rights of a putative spouse – ones that thought they were married. Y’all may have accrued death benefits as well, but that was not the question, though it is a good time to review your wills. At this point, since you crazy kids want to get married, go for it. I was not able to find a method to relate back the marriage to the day you thought you got married in 1982, however there are others more knowledgeable in North Carolina law, or indeed this entire area of practice, who may be able to give you a better answer. There is no common law marriage in North Carolina. I can find no law preventing you and your “husband” from tying the knot now.