Even though we’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, some archaic state and local laws regarding marriage are still on the books. Some may be important to you personally, while others may be mostly amusing or just plain odd.

Proxy Brides and Grooms

Five states allow a person to stand in at a wedding ceremony for the bride or groom if that person is unable to be there because he or she is serving in the military. These states are California, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana and Texas. In Montana, proxies can stand in for both spouses.

Insincere Proposals

In South Carolina, it’s against the law for a male who is over the age of 16 to propose to someone if he isn’t serious. Doing so is a violation of the Offenses Against Morality and Decency Act. This was likely put on the books to prevent men from seducing women with a false promise of marriage.

The Fourth Time Will Not Be a Charm

In Kentucky, women aren’t allowed to marry the same person four times. Obviously, if you’ve already divorced your spouse three times, there’s probably an issue there. Maybe the lawmakers behind that statute were trying to save people from themselves.

Married on a Dare? That’s Grounds for Annulment

In Delaware, one of the grounds for annulment of a marriage is that it occurred “because of a jest or dare.” That’s in addition to more traditional grounds such as getting married under duress, based on fraudulent information or having the capacity to consent.

Local Laws

There are also some marriage laws specific to certain cities. For example, in Wichita, Kansas, mistreatment of a mother-in-law isn’t grounds for divorce. In Truro, Massachusetts, there’s still a law on the books that a husband-to-be must "prove himself manly” by killing either three crows or six blackbirds. Likely, (and hopefully, for the birds’ sake) that one’s not enforced.

While these laws may seem random, it’s important to know your state’s and locality’s laws relating to marriage, divorce and annulment. Many states are still catching up to the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in every state, for example. If you have questions or issues, a family law attorney in your state can provide guidance.

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