Michigan Appeals Court: Commitment Ceremony Not A Marriage

May 22, 2019

A commitment ceremony is not the same as a marriage in Michigan, according to the Michigan Court of Appeals. 

Karen Kueck's ex-husband says her commitment ceremony with her new partner relieves him of an expensive spousal support obligation. 

Lueck says he still owes the money. The appeals court agrees. They said he has to continue paying an agreed-upon spousal support arrangement. That’s even though Lueck and her new partner invited friends and families to witness their commitment ceremony.

Kevin Gentry, Lueck’s attorney, said the terms of the divorce were carefully negotiated. He says the opinion means the law is clear: 

“To get married in Michigan, you’ve got to get a license, you’ve got to have witnesses. It’s a legal status, and my client didn’t have that legal status.”

The appeals court decision reverses a lower court’s decision.

Michigan law does not recognize common law marriages. The ex-husband could appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court.