Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Marriage is a very inprecise term. Getting married in a state, a federal District like Washington DC or territory. Gives various rights, identifies issues in a potential divorce such as property, custody, visitation and a variety of definitions. Another amazing thing is that after marriage in one state (or even a foreign country) it would be possible to travel to Nevada, live there for six weeks and file for a divorce based on the laws of Nevada. That is not even addressing jurisdictions with same-sex marriage.

Muddying the water even further is the fact that there are religions that have really a separate marriage which is not governed by national laws in the U.S. I recall an episode of L.A. Law wherein a Jewish wife was unable to obtain a Jewish divorce from her husband. In this case, the issue was resolved by waiving some rights to property in the California marriage to encourage the husband to grant the Jewish divorce. While in Iraq, I heard of former Iraqi Muslims ( returned to work in Iraq) who had a different interpretation of marriage. They would remain legally married to their wife in U.S. They would meet women, have a private religious ceremony to add another wife to their household (polygamy is legal in Islamic law up to 4 wives). They would then have conjugal relations one night and in the morning would have a divorce. Any details of the payment of a dowry to the divorced wife was not discussed with me.

One general rule I have observed in U.S marriages and a majority of religious marriages is that they generally have gone to no fault. Citizens may file for divorce alleging some problem such as adultery but ultimately after time passes, the divorce is granted based on a time such as a year of separation. In many churches, after an U.S. divorce, the divorced person will describe a reason for the divorce that no one in the congregation checks and will go on with their lives. The Roman Catholic church does not adjudicate divorces, since it will not grant a divorce. But it will consider a petition for annulment which is carefully considered.


*Under U.S. Jurisdiction (14)

* American Samoa
* Baker Island
* Guam
* Howland Island
* Jarvis Island
* Johnston Atoll
* Kingman Reef
* Midway Islands
* Navassa Island
* Northern Mariana Islands
* Palmyra Atoll
* Puerto Rico
* Virgin Islands
* Wake Island

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_US_territories_are_there#ixzz1BQz3mqhe

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