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Marriage

A valid marriage in North Carolina is created by meeting several requirements. The absence of any of those requirements may mean that the marriage is void or voidable. If the marriage is void or voidable that means there is a possibility that the marriage may be annulled. An annulment is allowed only when the marriage is void or voidable.

Note that North Carolina itself does not allow for common law marriage; but may recognize a valid common law marriage from another state.

The requirements for a valid marriage are discussed below.

Consent

Both parties must freely and willingly consent to the marriage and it must be expressed by both parties in the presence of an ordained minster or magistrate, and two witnesses. A person cannot fraudulently include a marriage. An example of a fraudulently induced marriage is someone telling a person they are pregnant with their child, and the person is not pregnant at all.

Marriage License

A marriage license must be signed to evidence that the parties have met the requirements.

Capacity

Anyone over the age of 18 can marry so long as the other requirements are met, and the other party is 18. Parties over the age of 16 and under the age of 18 may marry with written consent given by a parent or guardian. If one of the parties that wishes to marry is an emancipated minor, consent by a parent or guardian is not required. Parties over the age of 14 and under the age of 16 may marry under limited circumstances. A limited circumstance that a party between 14 and 16 may marry is if the female party is pregnant or has already given birth to a child. Even with pregnancy or the birth of a child a court must approve of the marriage. Children under the age of 14 cannot marry under any circumstances. If a marriage license is obtained by anyone under the age of 18 through fraud or misrepresentation the marriage may be annulled.

Bigamy

You may only be married to one person at a time. Unless there is evidence of dissolution, the first marriage is presumed to be valid.

Degrees of Kinship

A marriage is not valid if it is between blood relatives nearer than first cousins. First cousins may marry, but double first cousins may not.

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