The answer to your questions are part statutory and part "Dear Abby."
First, as a technical matter, what you "can" do may be different from what you are legally required to do. The statute governing applications for a marriage license is NRS 122.040, which requires (in section three) that a person seeking a license “answer under oath each of the questions contained in the form of license.”
The “form of license” is set out in NRS 122.050, and it does indeed contain a blank indicating whether a marriage is a first, second, etc., marriage, and if there had been a prior divorce, when and where that took place. There is no mandatory blank for the case number of any prior divorce.
And there is a statute (NRS 122.200) stating that “Any person who shall make a false statement in procuring marriage license with reference to any matter required by NRS 122.040 and 122.050 to be stated under oath shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.”
As far as I know, the Marriage License Department conducts no independent research of any kind. This makes sense, as I have had a number of cases in which parties have inaccurately filled out marriage license applications, and that fact was not discovered until divorce proceedings years later. But it is never a good idea to intentionally violate the law.
For the same reason, it is probably unwise to enter into a marriage with a foundation of concealing information you believe would be important to your intended spouse. But the last point is a personal, not a legal matter.
If you decide you would like to discuss the legal options, costs, and benefits with one of the lawyers of this office, please take a look at our consultation policies, procedures, and costs, at http://www.willicklawgroup.com/consultation_policies.
I forgot to answer one of your questions: whether Irregularities in the marriage license application would have rendered the marriage invalid. That answer is “no.”
Parties who obtain a marriage license and participate in a marriage ceremony before an officiant, declaring their intention to marry and being declared married by the officiant, are married in Nevada as of the conclusion of the solemnization ceremony.
Nevada’s statutory scheme governing the solemnization of marriage does not mandate that a marriage ceremony follow any specific form, but the statutes do lay out some basic rules for such a ceremony, and how the paperwork is to be handled thereafter.
In Nevada, beginning in 1867, parties wishing to marry were required to obtain a license in advance. It is a misdemeanor for any minister to “join together as husband and wife” persons who are legally entitled to marry in the absence of a marriage license, and a misdemeanor for anyone performing a supposedly legitimate marriage to fail or neglect to timely deliver the certificate of marriage to the county recorder.
If parties present a license and certificate to a minister and ask to have a lawful marriage performed, the marriage ceremony is lawful.
The purpose of the rules calling for solemnization, witnesses, and prompt recordation of the marriage certificate is to avoid a claim by either party that a lawful marriage did not take place. There is a strong public policy in favor of finding a lawful marriage. So strong is the public policy presuming marriages to be valid if seemingly so that even a marriage officiated by a person unauthorized by law to perform marriages is valid, so long as the parties seeking to be married “or either of them” believed in good faith that they were lawfully married. This is a holdover from the original Territorial Statutes of Nevada – about 150 years.
However, when faced with a clear failure to comply with the marriage procedures set forth in the statutes, the Nevada Supreme Court has held that the failure does not render the resulting marriage invalid. So, regardless of whether there is an inaccuracy in the marriage license application, so long as the parties are eligible to marry one another, get a license, and go through the solemnization ceremony, their marriage should be "legal."
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