If a couple is married in a foreign country, their marriage is legally recognized in the US without being filed anywhere in its borders. Supposing they want to have a civil marriage filed in the US. Are there legally aboveboard ways to do this in any US state?

For example, is there a procedure for dissolving a foreign marriage for the purpose of replacing it with a US marriage? Are there "no fault" divorce options that do not require the filing spouse to claim irreconcileable differences or that the marriage has broken down? Are there other options?

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    Why would they want that? Just so that they have a US-issued marriage certificate instead of one from the foreign country? Dec 18, 2021 at 23:30
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    @NateEldredge For example, if they periodically needs marriage-based visas or residence permits for foreign countries, and their foreign marriage certificate is time-consuming or impossible to authenticate for that purpose.
    – Chalcosoma
    Dec 18, 2021 at 23:49
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    Texas permits couples to register a marriage as having occurred many years before. I knew at least two couples who did this. They declared at the courthouse that they had, for example, been married "on April 15, 1997." They could then get a marriage certificate for that date. These people were otherwise unmarried at the declared date. It might be possible to get a Texas certificate for marriage on the same date as a couple's original marriage date, since they were not married before that date. Call a county clerk in Texas or a Texas lawyer for advice. Dec 20, 2021 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


There is a procedure for dissolving (ending) a marriage. It is called a divorce. It works the same whether the marriage originally took place in the same town, elsewhere in the same state, in another US state, or in another country. The details vary significantly from one US state to another

Then marrying again is a separate matter, whether to the same person or to a different person.

To the best of my knowledge there is no procedure in which one "replaces" a non-US marriage with a US marriage so as to be entitled to a US marriage certificate, short of divorce and remarriage.

I suspect that there is a simpler way to obtain the desired end goal here, but since I don't clearly know what the goal is, I can't say what the way to achieve is, or even be sure that such a way exists. A lawyer knowledgeable about immigration or international travel in the relevant county might be able to help.

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've read that divorce always requires grounds (including no fault divorce, for which the grounds are "irreconcileable differences" or similar). Could desire for a US marriage certificate count as grounds?
    – Chalcosoma
    Dec 19, 2021 at 0:16
  • In a no fault divorce, now available in every US state, i think, the "grounds" are purely pro-forma. Just use "irreconcilable differences" or whatever the default is in that state. No one will ask what those "differences" are or how you tried to reconcile. Dec 19, 2021 at 0:20

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