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The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

Couple discovers marriage isn't legal 48 years later

Almost half a century of accidental shacking up.

By Kristin Wong Dec 28, 2012 6:07PM
For those who believe that marriage is just a piece of paper, this could be a good argument.
Just two years short of their golden anniversary, Norma and Bob Clark discovered their marriage was never legally recognized.
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Bob met Norma years ago, while they were students at Santa Fe State. Bob was studying to get his master's in sociology.
"I thought she was kind of cute," he said.
The two then married on August 29, 1964 in San Mateo County, California. But when they recently sent $20 to the Hall of Records to retrieve a copy of their marriage certificate, there was nothing to be found. Norma told the Redlands Daily Facts:
"I couldn't find it, and couldn't find it for a reason, because it wasn't there."
 
Apparently, the pastor who married the couple never turned in their marriage license to the county record office. Bob said he thought a trip to the county would clear things up, but his explanation wasn't enough.
"I just went in there thinking I could just do it, and she said, 'No, no, you have to have witnesses,'" Clark said. "Well, you know most people at our wedding are dead. If we had waited a couple more years, we would have been in trouble."
Since they had family in town for the holidays, the Clarks decided to give it another try. They remarried this month, and Norma's brother and sister served as witnesses in the wedding—again. The couple's son, Alexander, was also there to witness his parents exchange their vows. He said of the situation:
"My sister and I, we just kind of joked that we didn't have to throw them a 50th anniversary party anymore."
The silver lining? The Clarks made it nearly fifty years and were still excited to vow their lives together. They did, however, have a bit of advice for other married couples: make sure you actually have your marriage license.
 

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Photo: Credit: Courtesy photo

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86Comments
Dec 29, 2012 3:38PM
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The exact same thing happened to me and my husband last year!   Happily married for 13 years, two beautiful children...went to put my husband on my new insurance and found out the county had no record of our marriage.  Apparently the minister never filed our license so while we were married before God and 300 of our family and friends, according to the government we were never legally married.  And the license was only good for thirty days.  It makes me wonder how often this happens!
Congratulations to this lovely couple on 48 good years!  Whether the state recognized it or not, their marriage is the real deal:-)

Dec 29, 2012 10:09AM
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He should've ran, that's like being pardoned by the Governor!!! haha j/k Congrats!!
Dec 29, 2012 9:16AM
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paper work or none i their hearts and in their minds they are one.
Dec 29, 2012 8:59AM
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Was a nice Christmas surprise enjoy  sh
Dec 29, 2012 8:47AM
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Might have been a good idea to pay the man.........if i perform a service and end up getting stiffed, guess where that certificate goes?
Dec 29, 2012 7:55AM
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I am NOT a lawyer, but, these 2 items may show they are legally married.

They were "married" because the law when they were married was "common law".  They are legally married by the old laws under "common law marriages" because that is when they started their "marriage contract".

# 2: They did their required lawful acts and the illegal act of the preacher does NOT matter.

The preacher is an agent for the government and by contract law, knowledge to the agent is knowledge to the principle, which in this case, is the government.

The government can NOT change contract law, including the contracts under marriage laws, in the middle of the marriage because of Ex Post Facto.


Dec 29, 2012 7:52AM
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Can they sue the paster? He is probably dead...of alcoholism. What a lazy jerk he was. They were married, the paper work was just for humans, God saw to it first. Hope you two have another 50 together.
Dec 29, 2012 6:59AM
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so now what will happen when one or the other passes away....the remaining spouse will not be able to collect any benefits since they have not been married long enough ....the 48 yrs will account for nothing 
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