Woman seeking divorce shocked to find she was never married because wedding officiant died before submitting paperwork

Mary Duncan

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.*

Ever since I was a little girl I have dreamed about getting married and what my wedding day would look like. The details have changed a bit over the years after romanticizing the traditional church wedding when I was young because those were the only kind I had ever attended.

As I got older and saw more of my friends and relatives get married in a myriad of ways, my dream changed to the iteration it is now. Now, my dream is to get married barefoot on a beach as the sun goes down and then party under a tent way into the night. In theory, a person can do anything they want with their wedding and it’s not up to your guests to decide where or when it will be. Building your own dream wedding is worth it.

My friend Aimee was the first of all of my friends to get engaged and married. I worked with her on the third shift at a restaurant and that is where she met her husband, Dave. From the start, I didn’t think that Dave was Aimee’s type at all. He was a real macho man who liked to wear shirts that accentuated his muscles, he had a shaved and tattooed head, a big beard, and rode a Harley Davidson. Aimee was the exact opposite, a quiet, crafty, girly girl.

Alas, they had an attraction that led to a serious relationship and then marriage. Over the very rocky and unhappy years that followed they had two sons together and Aimee tried to ride out the terrible relationship until her kids were out of high school, but she just couldn’t stand to be with him anymore.

Aimee secretly began gathering the necessary paperwork to file for divorce, and part of that was going to the town hall in the city where they were married to pick up a copy of their marriage certificate. What Aimee learned there shocked her to her core.

Aimee went to the counter and explained to the clerk what she needed, and the clerk typed away on her computer, her brows ruffling with confusion and annoyance when she couldn’t find the record. She asked for the spelling of Aimee’s name multiple times, but nothing came up.

“When did you file the certificate? She asked Aimee.

“We didn’t. The Justice of the Peace who officiated our wedding said he would sign and file it.”

“Oh, no, honey. What if he didn’t?” the clerk asked her.

Aimee immediately went home and did a Google search for her officiant and the first thing that came up made her heart sink.

It was an obituary, and he had died the day after Aimee’s wedding.

Without telling Dave about this, Aimee went back to the town hall and told the clerk what she’d found out. The clerk shrugged.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said, “If the paperwork wasn’t filed, you can’t really file for divorce, because you were never officially married to begin with.”

It took a few weeks for Aimee to figure out what to do, but once she knew she would be able to take care of herself and her two kids, she went to Dave and told him the truth about what she found. Then, she promptly left him.

The next time Aimee got married, she made sure to file the paperwork herself.

Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation: https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan

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I write about the weird complexities of relationships to make a better life for me and my daughter through words. https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan

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