foreign marriage in Georgia

Married Abroad? Here’s How Georgia Recognizes Your Foreign Marriage

Congratulations on your marriage! Whether you said “I do” on a scenic beach in Bali or a historic castle in Prague, starting your life together is an exciting time. But if you and your spouse plan to reside in Georgia, you might wonder – is my foreign marriage valid here?

The good news is, Georgia generally recognizes marriages performed legally in other countries. However, navigating the specifics can get a little complicated. Here at Thomas & Fargione Law in Athens, Georgia, we understand the complexities of international marriages. This blog post will give you a clear picture of how Georgia views foreign marriages and what steps you might need to take.

Presumption of Validity: Georgia Recognizes Most Foreign Marriages

Georgia, like most states, follows the presumption of validity. This means the state presumes your foreign marriage is valid as long as it complied with the marriage laws of the country where it occurred. The burden of proof falls on anyone who challenges the validity of your marriage.

Here are some key factors Georgia courts consider when assessing a foreign marriage:

  • Age: Both spouses must have been at the legal marrying age in the country where the ceremony took place.
  • Capacity to Marry: Neither spouse should have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol or mentally incapable of understanding the significance of marriage.
  • Free Consent: The marriage must have been entered into freely, without coercion or duress.
  • Proper Formalities: The marriage ceremony must have complied with the legal formalities of the country where it happened. This could include obtaining a marriage license, having a qualified official perform the ceremony, and having witnesses present.

Exceptions to Presumption of Validity

While Georgia recognizes most foreign marriages, there are some exceptions:

  • Bigamy or Polygamy: Marriages where either spouse has a living spouse from a prior marriage are not recognized.
  • Incestuous Marriages: Marriages between close relatives prohibited by Georgia law are not recognized.
  • Public Policy Violations: If the marriage ceremony violated a fundamental public policy of Georgia, it might not be recognized. For example, a marriage involving child marriage would likely fall under this category.

How to Strengthen the Validity of Your Foreign Marriage

Even though Georgia generally recognizes foreign marriages, taking some additional steps can provide peace of mind:

  • Obtain a Certified Marriage Certificate: Acquire an official marriage certificate from the country where you married. Ensure it’s translated into English by a certified translator if necessary.
  • \Apostille the Certificate: If the country where you were married is part of the Apostille Convention (most are), you can obtain an apostille. This is a special certification that simplifies the document’s authentication for use in other member countries, including the United States.
  • Consider Registering Your Marriage in Georgia: While not mandatory, registering your marriage with the Georgia Probate Court provides an official record within the state.

Seek Professional Legal Guidance

If you have any doubts about the validity of your foreign marriage in Georgia, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is highly recommended. An attorney can review your specific situation, advise you on any necessary steps, and ensure your marriage is recognized in the state.

Here at Thomas & Fargione Law Group, we have extensive experience handling international family law matters. We can guide you through the process of validating your foreign marriage in Georgia and answer any questions you might have. Contact us today for a consultation.

Additional Considerations

This post provides a general overview and should not be taken as legal advice. The laws regarding foreign marriages can be complex, and specific situations might require further investigation.

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