Ever since North Dakota approved no-fault divorce in 1985, New York was the lone holdout in America, requiring couples to assign blame when they split. But in 2010, the state legislature approved no-fault divorce, siding with opponents who viewed the law as antiquated and passé. But what other outdated marriage laws exist today in the U.S.? Read on to find out which states have (or had) the wackiest rules around.
Legal: Marriage by Proxy for Military Personnel
Marriage by proxy, which means someone can stand in for a bride or groom who can't be present at his or her own wedding, is limited to members of the U.S. Armed Forces. But of the five states that allow the practice——Montana is the only one that allows double-proxy weddings. Essentially, neither the bride nor groom has to show up.
Legal: Marriage Under the Age of 18 with Parental Consent
For a few months between 2007 and 2008, anyone under 18 could get married in the state of Arkansas with parental consent. That's right, even babies could get married as long as their parents agreed. The original law was meant to allow pregnant teenagers to get married if their parents approved, but lawmakers forgot to put in an age minimum, which, combined with a grammatical error, left the law open to anyone of any age. After months of embarrassment for the state, the law was finally corrected in April 2008, making the minimum age 17 for boys and 16 for girls.
Legal: To Annul a Marriage That Was Done on a Dare
Ever been dared to get married…as a prank? Neither have we. But apparently this happens often enough in Delaware that it's actually an option when couples file for an annulment. Along with the basics reasons such as marrying "without the capacity to consent," "under duress" or "with fraudulent information," couples can now check "because of a jest or dare" when applying to dissolve their nuptials. Handy!
Illegal: To Marry the Same Man Four Times
In the state of Kentucky, it's illegal to remarry the same man four times. Honestly, good for Kentucky. If you've already divorced him three times, someone needs to step in, because you're clearly not the best decision maker in the world. Of course, as long as it's different men, you can get married and divorced as many times as you like. Let the good times roll!
Legal: Man Must Prove Himself by Killing Birds
In Truro, Massachusetts, a groom-to-be must "prove himself manly'" prior to marriage by hunting and killing either six blackbirds or three crows. Manly is a good thing. Dead birds? Not so much.
Illegal: Married Couples to Sleep Nude in a Rented Room
Despite the fact that the infamous witch trials were over 300 years ago, religious conservatism is still alive in Salem, Massachusetts—at least on the law books. Apparently, married couples are not allowed to sleep in the nude in a rented room. Of course, reflecting on numerous media reports about germs on hotel bedspreads, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea after all.
Illegal: For Men Over 16 to Propose Marriage—and Not Mean It
In South Carolina it is illegal for a man over 16 years old to propose marriage and not mean it. Doing so means he's committing a misdemeanor under the . Not sure if that means he will be forced to marry the woman in question, or if it just means he can't ask for a woman's hand as a way to seduce her. We hope it's the latter.
Illegal: Mistreatment of Mother-in-Law as Grounds for Divorce
Many husbands would probably say their mother-in-law isn't their favorite person in the world. But for those who really, really dislike their wife's mother, moving to Wichita, Kansas, might be a good option. In this city, a man's mistreatment of his mother-in-law may not be used as grounds for divorce. So assuming he wants to keep his wife, he can still be as nasty to dear old Mom as he pleases!
Illegal: For Married Couples to Kiss in Public on Sundays
Imagine it: You get a babysitter so you and your hubby can go out for a romantic dinner. Afterward you take a stroll around town. Caught in the moment, you lean in for a passionate kiss. Busted! The police can cuff you and throw you in jail—that is, if you live in Hartford, Connecticut…and it's Sunday. Well, maybe not these days, but technically, it's still illegal in this city for a man to kiss his wife on the Lord's Day.
Illegal: For Palm Readers and Fortune Tellers to Officiate a Wedding
It's most likely that your wedding was officiated by a religious figure or judge. Or, if you're a bit more eccentric than some, you had a friend become ordained online so he or she could marry you. Good thing you went with the tried-and-true: New Orleans has made it illegal for palm readers, fortune tellers, mystics and the like to officiate a wedding. Guess they don't want you peeking at your future. You'll just have to go into it with blind faith like everyone else!