What Types of Marriages are illegal in Washington State?

By Spokane family attorney, Hector Quiroga.

The Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act § 207 (a) outlines Prohibited Marriages (regarding bigamy and kinship)

The following marriages are prohibited (illegal in Washington State):

A marriage entered into before the dissolution of an earlier marriage.  It is important to note that all fifty states have this requirement, not just Washington. This comes as no surprise to most U.S. Citizens, but is has some substantial issues as it pertains to immigration regulations. Some marriages can be legal in other cultures and/or countries (i.e. arrange marriages), however, they would have no validity under our laws.

Under UDMA § 207 (a) also explain that a marriage tells us who is responsible for a child. It also outlines that marriages  between ancestor/descendent, brother/sister, half/whole/adoption are prohibited. The main objective is to stop romantic attachment within the home. As noted above, most states have this requirement.

Now, for relationships between uncle/niece, aunt/nephew, half or whole, the UDMA does explain that they also illegal marriages. Spokane family attorney and advisors know that there are some important exceptions for aboriginal cultures. The main rational behind this provision is to preserve the identity of the family unit and health (physical and emotional).

Under UMDA § 208: Declaration of invalidity – What Must Be Filed in an Annulment Petition

A court shall enter a decree of invalidity if: (both parties do not have capacity to contract, see 1 and 3 below, there is no capacity to consummate, see section 4 below, or Washington state prohibitions).

(1)        A party lacked capacity to consent;
Drugs, alcohol, duress.

(2)        A party lacked physical capacity to consummate, and the  other party did not know at the time of the               marriage;

(3)        AGE: Under 16 and no parent consent or no judicial consent  or 16-17 and no parental or judicial consent. Judicial consent  bypasses parental consent.

(4)        Marriage is prohibited.

A Declaration may be sought by these times and people:


By Whom


Lacked consent
  • Either party
  • Legal representative of either party
  • Within 90 days after petitioner knew of the condition
  • Never after death
Lacked physical ability to consummate Either party
  • Within 1 year after petitioner knew
  • Never after death
Lacked requisite age
  • Underaged party
  • Parent
  • Guardian
  • Prior to reaching the age at which he could have overcome the omitted requirement
  • Never after death
(c) Prohibited marriage
  • Either party
  • Legal spouse if bigamy,
  • Appropriate state official,
  • Child of either party
  • A: Before death.  (WA)
  • B: Any time but less than 5 years after the death of either party.  (Most common and functional)

It is very important to note that children of invalid marriages are legitimate.

The “general rule” is that a marriage is invalid as of the date of the marriage. Unless the court decides otherwise in light of all relevant circumstances,

The effect of retroactive decree on third parties is left to the best interests of justice (it is open to the discretion of the court) to make such determination.

For more information about marriage and/or divorce, please contact Spokane family attorney, Hector Quiroga.

Please see the links below for more information:

Overview of This Area of Law
What is a Marriage? (legally speaking)
Illegal Marriages in Washington (and Spokane)
Prenuptial Agreements in Washington
Divorce: Filing, Deadlines, and Other Issues
Divorce: Temporary Orders and Motions
Parenting Plans in Spokane County
Child support in Spokane County
Spousal Support
Division of Assets in a Divorce
Emergency Orders
Third Party Actions in Spokane County