Metropolitan Dade County v. Shelton, 78-1105

Citation375 So.2d 32
Decision Date12 September 1979
Docket NumberNo. 78-1105,78-1105
PartiesMETROPOLITAN DADE COUNTY, Appellant, v. Lee Jackson SHELTON, husband, and Willie Mae Shelton, wife, Appellees.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)

Steven Kronenberg of Pyszka, Kessler & Adams, Miami, for appellant. Law Offices of James F. Simpson, West Palm Beach, for appellee, Willie Mae Shelton.

Before BERANEK, J. LETTS, J., and POWELL, ROM W., Associate Judge, concur.


The question in this case is whether a particular ceremonial marriage was valid and subject to dissolution or whether it was void and subject to annulment. The trial court found it to be void and granted annulment. This is an appeal by Metropolitan Dade County from that final judgment of annulment. Appellant, Metropolitan Dade County, intervened in the suit between the parties to the alleged marriage because it was paying workmen's compensation benefits to the alleged wife who was the widow of a deceased county employee. These benefits would terminate under Section 440.16(2)(a) Florida Statutes (1977) if the widow remarried. The County asserted the marriage to be valid and appellee, the recipient of the workmen's compensation death benefits, asserted it to be void.

The controversy concerns substantial compliance with the marriage license law of Florida contained in Florida Statutes Chapter 741. The facts which are uncontested are that on Wednesday, July 6, 1977, two persons made application for a marriage license at the office of the Circuit Court Clerk in Palm Beach County. The deputy clerk advised that there was a three day waiting period and that since the courthouse was closed on the week-end, the license would not be issued until Monday, July 11, 1977. The applicants explained that the ceremony was planned for the evening of Friday, July 8, 1977, and that out-of-town guests had been invited and other arrangements made. In order to avoid embarrassment, the deputy clerk told the applicants that it would be legal to have the ceremony performed on Friday evening and to simply have the license issued on the following Monday. The applicants were assured that such a process was completely proper and the deputy clerk telephoned the notary public at the wedding chapel and so advised. The wedding ceremony occurred on Firday evening, July 8, 1977, before the notary and witnesses. Subsequently, on Monday, July 11, 1977, the same notary and the same witnesses signed the certificate on the marriage license which was issued on the same date. No further ceremony took place after the issuance of the license. About one month later the wife petitioned for dissolution and then filed an alternate petition for annulment apparently on discovering that workmen's compensation benefits would be terminated if there had been a valid marriage.

The trial court held the marriage to be void and granted annulment. Neither party has cited any controlling precedent from this State.

Appellee relies upon Section 741.08, Florida Statutes (1974), which provides as follows:

741.08 Marriage not to be solemnized without a license. Before any of the persons named in 741.07 shall solemnize any marriage, he shall require of the parties a marriage license issued according to the requirements of 741.01, and within 10 days after solemnizing the marriage he shall make a certificate thereof on the license, and shall transmit the same to the office of the county court judge or clerk of the circuit court from which it issued.

Appellee contends this statute makes void any ceremonial marriage performed without prior issuance of a proper marriage license.

Appellant, on the other hand, urges that this court adopt a general rule that the statute is directory only and that the absence of a license does not destroy the validity of the marriage. Altho...

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3 cases
  • Hall v. MAAL
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • April 29, 2010 which is entered into by the parties in good faith and in substantial compliance with Chapter 741. Id. In Metropolitan Dade County v. Shelton, 375 So.2d 32 (Fla. 4th DCA 1979), a couple who sought to be married applied for a license on a Wednesday. However, because a three-day waiting p......
  • Roberts v. Opalich
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • December 21, 2023
    ...with the statute, the marriage is valid, even where it is solemnized without a license. {¶13} For example, in Metro. Dade Cty. v. Shelton, 375 So.2d 32, (Fla.1979), the court found a valid marriage, even though the parties were married without a marriage license, where they attempted to obt......
  • Hall v. Maal, Case No. 1D08-4776 (Fla. App. 10/20/2009)
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • October 20, 2009
    ...addressed whether a marriage existed based on substantial compliance with Chapter 741, Florida Statutes. See Metropolitan Dade County v. Shelton, 375 So. 2d 32 (Fla. 4th DCA 1979); Litzky v. Ullman, 296 So. 2d 638 (Fla. 3d DCA 1974). In Litzky, a couple had a marriage and was issued a Hebre......

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