Brooklyn, NY asked in Divorce and Family Law for New York

Q: Does a NYC Court acknowledges a marriage via a religious contract?

I got married via a religious contract 2 years ago. Due to covid, we never got married via a civil court process. 6 months after the wedding, I left my husband anf decided to move on because he was very abusive (physically and verbally) and was cheating on me. He's now threatening me that if I don't go back, I need to pay him the money he spent for the wedding. He's claiming he spent 75k but I also spent approximately 53k on the wedding. Will the court acknowledges such marriage? Can I divorce him in court? will the courts force me to pay him the money he supposedly spent on the wedding?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Peter Christopher Lomtevas
Peter Christopher Lomtevas
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Religious marriages do not count as marriages unless the presiding minister/pastor/rabbi/imam is licensed by the state to marry people. Thus, if a rabbi/imam has the state licensure (as a judge or a clerk) to file marriage documents with the state, there is a valid civil marriage. Only civil marriages carries financial protections.

Where there is no marriage, neither party can claim anything from the other party unless there is a written agreement for the splitting/sharing of costs. The difference in a marriage is that everything is presumed by law to be split. There is no such protection when there is no marriage.

The asker must determine if the religious figure that married her was indeed licensed by the state to solemnize marriages. If yes, then a divorce is the only way out. If no marriage, the asker can walk away and cut her losses.

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