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Attorney General Clarifies VA Marriage Law

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By Rebecca Sheir

A couple who obtained a marriage license in Virginia, but held their wedding in Maryland, were told their marriage wasn't valid.

But Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says this marriage law has been in place in the Commonwealth, and across the country, for decades.

The law says if you get your marriage license in Virginia, you must get married in Virginia.

Brian Gottstein, spokesperson for the Attorney General, says the measure has been in place at least since the 1950s.

"It's not a new requirement," he says. "In fact, if you look at the Virginia Department of Health website, it states under 'marriage requirements' that a marriage license issued in Virginia is for marriages to be performed in Virginia only."

Most other states have a similar law on their books. But Gottstein says the Commonwealth has created an exception for Virginians wishing to get married elsewhere.

"Let's say you get your marriage license here, you're a resident of Virginia," he says. "But you want to go to the beach in North Carolina to get married. Well, you can have a ceremony down there as long as you have a brief, legal ceremony here, to solemnize the marriage here in Virginia."

Gottstein emphasizes that marriages licensed and performed outside of Virginia will indeed be recognized in Virginia.

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