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Legality of Some Pennsylvania Marriages is Questioned

By Sheryl Rentz on June 10, 2008

A recent article by Dianna Marder of the Philadelphia Inquirer details the lack of validity of marriage ceremonies performed by individuals who were ordained online in Pennsylvania. According to the article, some of the marriages are being invalidated on the grounds that the wedding officiant is unqualified. Online ordinations fail to provide these “e-ministers” with “a regularly established church or congregation” as the law requires.

The ruling, which was originally made in the Pennsylvania divorce case of Dorie Heyer of York County, PA., could have sweeping effects on many marriages in the state of Pennsylvania. If a state appellate court were to uphold the ruling, couples across Pennsylvania could find their marriages invalidated. Benefits such as Social Security and disability distributions could be challenged. Insurance companies could demand repayment of benefits paid for the hospitalization of the insured’s spouse, and heirs could find themselves with no legal standing in probate court.

Even if the ruling is overturned in appellate court, the legality of online ordinations appears to be in jeopardy. In an attempt to “protect the sanctity of marriage”, State Representative Stan Staylor (R., York) has a bill that would bar anyone ordained online or through the mail from officiating at weddings – even if they have established congregations.

Sheryl R. Rentz is a licensed and qualified Pennsylvania divorce law attorney with years of experience in the complex area of Pennsylvania divorce law. She is a member of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar Associations as well as the Montgomery County. With the ever changing landscape in the arena of family law in Pennsylvania, it is important to hire an experienced divorce lawyer to insure your interests are fully represented.

Marriage laws vary in each state, as do the laws surrounding divorce and dissolution of partnerships. The process can have serious legal ramifications that could cost you financially for your life and if children are involved then the issue becomes even more complex. The Law Office of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. has years of divorce law experience that you can trust. We are one of the few law firms offering free evaluations so call or contact us today with no obligation on your part. We are ready to answer any and all of your Pennsylvania Divorce Law questions.

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