Case Caption: Hoda Fathi Yusuf Hamed v. Hisham Mohammed HamedCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2014-0008Date: 07/20/2015Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

A judgment of the Superior Court dismissing a petition for divorce on the ground that the parties failed to obtain a license prior to having their marriage solemnized is reversed. The Superior Court is not required to treat unpublished decisions of the Appellate Division as binding authority, since that court has itself decreed that they should not be regarded as having precedential value. While 16 V.I.C. § 32 establishes that a marriage that is not solemnized by one of the statutorily listed methods shall not be valid, that same language is not used with respect to the requirement that the parties to a marriage obtain a license. The Virgin Islands Code contains no provision expressly providing that a marriage entered into without a license-as opposed to one entered into without solemnization-is not valid. While the Legislature has established procurement of a marriage license as a mandatory requirement for entering into a marriage in the Virgin Islands, there is simply no evidence that the Legislature intended, in all cases, for the absence of a marriage license to render a marriage invalid, and 16 V.I.C. § 41 provides only that a license shall be admissible evidence of the marriage. Thus the Legislature envisioned that individuals may be able to prove that they are married by relying on evidence other than a marriage license. In this case the evidence establishes that the parties intended to get married when their marriage was solemnized, and they entered into a valid marriage. Accordingly, the mere fact that they failed to obtain a license prior to solemnization of their marriage-without more-did not render their marriage invalid and the Superior Court could adjudicate the present divorce petition. That court's January 31, 2014 order is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings on the merits.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion