Carabetta v. Carabetta
182 Conn. 344 (1980)
- Mr. and Mrs. Carabetta were
married by a priest in a Catholic Church, lived together as husband and
wife for over 20 years, and had four children together.
- However, they neglected to
get a marriage license.
- Years later, when they filed
for divorce, the Trial Court refused to grant a divorce because according
to Connecticut law, they were never married.
- The Trial Court found that
noncompliance with a statutory requirement of a marriage license is a
fatal flaw to the creation of a legally valid marriage.
- The Connecticut Supreme Court
- The Connecticut Supreme
Court looked to Connecticut law and found that it did not have an
explicit requirement that the couple have a valid marriage license.
- The Court interpreted that
to mean that a license was just something that could be used as proof of
marriage, but it wasn't necessary to actually be married.
- The basic rule is that unless
a marriage mandates a license, then
a license is only directory,
and the failure to obtain a license does not void the marriage.
- Basically, a license is just
a formality that makes it easier to prove a valid marriage, unless it is
required by Statute.
- If a license is required, and you don't get one, you might
still have a valid common-law marriage, if that happens to be available in the State.
- Conversely, States do not require a valid solemnization ceremony. That
is always optional for a valid marriage.