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Incestuous and Void Marriages

In New York, while people generally have the right to marry the person of their choice, there are some scenarios where marriage is impermissible. Under New York Domestic Relations Law, individuals who are related within certain degrees of consanguinity are prohibited from marrying each other. This means that it is illegal for a person to marry a brother, a sister, an uncle, an aunt, a niece, or a nephew. Such marriages are incestuous and void. A marriage that is void is invalid from the beginning. Regardless of whether there was a ceremony performed by a person authorized to do so and regardless of whether the appropriate licenses were obtained, if the two people are related by blood, then the marriage was never valid. To learn more about circumstances under which a marriage is void, contact an experienced New York family lawyer.

Void and voidable marriages

A void marriage is one that is invalid from the very beginning because it violates New York law. Because they are unlawful, there are no steps that the couple has to take to terminate, dissolve, or annul a marriage that is void. If the couple is related by blood within certain degrees of consanguinity, the marriage is illegal and void. However, if the individuals are related by blood, but are not closely related, the union may not be illegal. The law is only concerned about close blood relatives marrying. Not only are such marriages void, the participants may be fined and imprisoned.

In addition to incestuous marriages, marriages that are a void include marriages in which one person is still married to another person and marriages that were solemnized by a person who did not have authority to do so. Those with the authorize to solemnize a marriage include a governor or former governor, the mayor or former mayor, the city clerk or deputy city clerk, a justice or judge of certain courts, an appointed marriage officer, a village, town or county justice, a member of the clergy or minister, other officiants authorized under section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law.

On the other hand, a voidable marriage is one that is flawed in its validity, but still exists. Voidable marriages will be invalid only after one party takes steps to terminate the marriage through the annulment process.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Void marriages: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 6
  2. Voidable marriages: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 7
  3. Action for judgment declaring nullity of void marriages or annulling voidable marriage: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 140
  4. Action to annul marriage on ground of incurable mental illness for five years; procedure; support: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 141
Domestic Relations Act section 5: Incestuous and void marriages

A marriage is incestuous and void whether the relatives are legitimate or illegitimate between either:

  1.  An ancestor and a descendant;
  2.  A brother and sister of either the whole or the half blood;
  3.  An uncle and niece or an aunt and nephew.

If a marriage prohibited by the foregoing provisions of this section be solemnized it shall be void, and the parties thereto shall each be fined not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars and may, in the discretion of the court in addition to said fine, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months. Any person who shall knowingly and wilfully solemnize such marriage, or procure or aid in the solemnization of the same, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined or imprisoned in like manner.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have concerns about the validity of your marriage, it is important that you discuss your concerns with someone with experience. If your marriage is not legal due to incest, then it is void. The experienced New York family law lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates are adept at handling complicated issues related to family and marriage. We are here to help. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Nassau County, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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