Changing Landscape of Marriage Recognition

The rules for marriage recognition are changing, and the situation is somewhat improved over last year. In California, the legislature enacted a new rule that grants non-California married couples “all the rights and duties of marriage but not its designation.” While this leaves a lot of confusion (what does one write on a deed?) the clear intent is that non-California married will be treated as if married for all purposes. This includes the rights to shared property and also shared debt liability, and the duty to go through a judicial dissolution in the event of a break-up.

In Maryland, the Attorney General has recently ruled that non-Maryland marrieds must be treated as married in that state. This means that whenever a Maryland couple travels out of state to marry, or if a married couple moves to Maryland (or even visits it for a week on vacation), they will be treated as married for all legal purposes. This ruling by the Attorney General may not be enforced everywhere in the state, and it is likely that there will be legislative or court action to set aside this ruling. But for now, couples should assume that they will be treated as married, for better or for worse, if they live in Maryland.

New Jersey and New York, for the most part, are recognizing out-of-state marriages, and once the 30-day Congressional hold expires regarding Washington D.C.’s recently enacted marriage statute, full legal marriage will be available or recognized nearly everywhere in the Northeast region.

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