Can You Get Divorced If You Never Got Married?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Can you get divorced if you never married? In this case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals says “Yes.”

The court ruled that Choa Yang Xiong of Maplewood was entitled to the rights of other divorcing spouses because she apparently thought she was legally married to Su Xiong for the 18 years they lived together.

They had gotten a marriage license but not a certificate.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Steve Murphy Reports

Even though this case is unique, it’s a lesson for other couples — the lesson is that marriage has two sides.

“One is getting into it and all the privileges and benefits but marriage also has the other side,” said William Mitchell professor Eileen Scallen, who specializes in domestic partnership law.

“We don’t think of divorce as a benefit but it really is,” she said.

Scallen said it’s something couples should think about at the beginning of relationships.

In the Xiong’s divorce case, issues such as child custody and division of property were put on hold, pending the appellate court ruling.

  • Marco

    Incredible! You can now be hauled into divorce and family court even though you were never married, legally or otherwise. This is pure unadulterated abuse of men -MiSANDRY.

    What’s next? Live with a woman for 3 months and 50% of what you own becomes hers? All this ruling does is cause men to stay away from llong ter relationships, not marry – Marriage Strike, and engender even more anger at a anti-male bias in the judical system.

    • Pepe Le Pew

      Oh, please. There are two people in a marriage. Don’t think this victimizes men. It could just as easily affect a woman. And marriage aside, if you’ve made kids, of course you can be hauled into family court. And if this guy introduced as his wife, told people he was married, filled out forms as married then yes, for all intents and purposes, he was married.

      • Marco

        Sure it victimizes men. They get hammered with alimony and child support at the drop of a hat. This ruling is just bad for all. Shows that in the end a woman can still grab what she can get in a RELATIONSHIP, not a legally recognized marriage. Hmong or not they were not legally married, but the court thinks so, so now the courts have defined what constitutes a marriage in the absence of a marriage certificate and legal marriage records. I suppose the tax man will be a calling if they filed as married on their tax returns.

        • Marcus

          Though normally I would agree with you about the victimization of men, if you read the full decision from the court you’ll understand why.

          Essentially she was duped into thinking they were married for 13 years. And yes, they did file as married on their tax returns.

      • Les Johnson

        So playing married, but not legally married, should be grounds to be considered actually married legally? You think just getting the license is good enough, eh? If I introduce you as my wife, does that make you my wife?

        Use your head.

        And wait, how about gays? Oops, shhhh! Don’t talk about that!

        • mamma jamma

          The Court of Appeals says it does. Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see your name. That explains your standpoint.

          • Les Johnson

            The court of appeals, eh? Well I guess that settles it. They are the final authority on all things, so their words are mighty!!

            Again, playing married, but not having a marriage certificate, is not being married. You can’t divorce someone you didn’t marry legally. Period.

          • The Trend

            Simone de Beauvoir once said-
            “No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” The message to women is: you will participate in work and public life whether you want to or not.

            And maybe then you can quit glomming on to men for support and get over your johnson envy.

    • The Trend

      The feminists are working on a man tax- soon every man will be assigned a woman to financially support

  • Richard

    And gays want the right to be a part of this mess?

    • Les Johnson

      I still can’t believe non-gays want to…

      I think gays should vote whether straight people should get to keep going with this marriage thing. I think straights are descrating it, and lessoning the value of it.

  • brent

    Send those crazy kids to Judge Judy, she’ll figure it out

  • concerto

    IN the hmong community they were married. She thought they were married. They legal papers together as married, including tax papers. For all purposes they were married. He just used the lack of a marriage certificate so he wouldn’t have to pay her any money.

    • Les Johnson

      So since she’s an idiot, he has to pay? Sorry, that’s BS.

      She didn’t think they needed to do what ALL OTHER COUPLES HAVE TO DO in order to get married? She’s special? Come on.

      ” For all purposes they were married.”

      This is not a legitimate statement. There is no such thing.

      • Bill

        It’s not that she “didn’t think they needed” to get married. It’s that she thought she WAS legally married! BIG DIFFERENCE!

        • Les Johnson


          If I think you and I are legally married, Bill, does that make it so?

        • WHAT?????

          I was always told that ignorance is no excuse to break the law. This means that just because you did not know it was illegal it does not give you the right to do it and not have to pay the consequences.
          The same should apply here. If you want to get married you should have to jump through all the hoops to do so. Just because you did not know there was a hoop does not mean it does not need to be jumped through. This sounds an awful lot like a double standard to me.

          • Marco


  • Patti Gaulden Santoso

    Yes, you can still divorce if not “legally” married. My daughter and son-in-law went thru the big church wedding- got the license had it signed and moved on. Guess whose license somehow never made it back to the courthouse? You got it! So after 4 kids and 11 years of marriage, my daughter was told to file for divorce anyway as they had lived in states that recogonozed “common law” marriage…

  • Patti Gaulden Santoso

    can’t spell these days- recoginized…duh…

    • Spell hacker


  • Common Cents

    This article doesn’t say it but I’d wager the man also thought they were married until the divorce proceedings revealed otherwise. Then, and only then, is when he tried to say the marriage doesn’t apply, not prior. He fully expected to pay for the alimony and child support.

    • Les Johnson

      Alimony should be outlawed, and so should child support except in instances where the man doesn’t take responsibility for his child. This blanket law that is designed for the lowest common denominator is not fair practice to those of us who do TCB.

      • Spell hacker

        It’s fairly obvious, Les, that you’re a bitter man from some sort of failed relationship. I was in a terrible marriage for too many years but I don’t let it sour my view of all men, just the one that thought I was his personal punching bag. If you continue to stay bitter then that person that you think wronged you will always win.

        • Les Johnson

          Bitter? I have never paid alimony. I have been divorced, but had no children with the wench. Everybody who has ever been in a relationship has been in a failed one at some point.

          I’m ‘bitter that the laws are slanted and unfair.

          I have to ask… Why were you in an abusive marriage for “many years?” After the first punch, why didn’t you walk out the door and never look back. Also, using the word “kid” or “kids” in your answer will not constitute a legitimate answer.

          • just sayin'

            u come across as a total prick with that last statement… fear is a powerful tool some people use to control. Its not as easy to leave as your limited thought process would have you believe.

            here’s a tip Les, get out and enjoy life B4 its too late and Volunteer your precious time, it’ll relax you.

            • Les Johnson

              “Its not as easy to leave as your limited thought process would have you believe.”

              It is EXACTLY that easy. Choosing not to out of YOUR OWN FEAR is not the same as saying it’s a hard decision for everybody. It was just a hard decision for YOU.

              I’m enjoying life. I volunteer countless hours per year and have done so for several years now. How come every time I say something doesn’t like, they attack me and say I’m living in my mom’s basement, I’m bitter and have a sad life, and I’m fat, now I’m a prick, and all that?

              Are you THAT insecure that you have to turn it into an attack on me? I say yes. You are that insecure.

            • WHAT?????

              Fear is a powerful tool. Just look at how the Republican party uses it, keeps the voters coming back just like someone that gets beat by their husband. If you do not want to look at it politicaly you can use organized religion as an example. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE OR YOU BURN FOR ETERNITY!!!!

      • laura

        Les that has to be one of the dumbest comments you have ever said on here, outlaw child support????? Are you serious? Do you know how many men and women would not support a child if they weren’t told they had to or if they didn’t have consequences issued to them if they didn’t pay? Why do you think child support exists in the 1st place? The parent that has custody of a child spends a lot more on that child than the other parent and more than what their child support pays for. What about all the extras like field trips, lunch money, food, clothing, house payment, electric, spending money for the child, sporting activities, new shoes and I could go on and on. No I am not divorced nor have I ever been but my sister got divorced and her ex refused to pay for anything that his son needed, and he was always late on paying his child support until my sister finally took him back to court and they started to garnish it out of his check and that still was only a fraction of what it cost to raise a child.

        • The Trend

          Don’t need to get rid of child support- but you only get it if you were married. Same thing with welfare- no more getting knocked up as a way to foist all your living expenses on the tax payers or an unsuspecting man. And lets not even pretend like it doesn’t happen constantly- day time TV is filled with gold digging “baby mamma’s”

          • mom

            Why should you only get child support if you were married? It doesn’t take a marriage to make a child, if you don’t want to support a child take measures to make sure you don’t have any. I agree there are people that use and abuse their children’s child support and that is why I am all for making changes to it but your and Les’s suggestions are just crazy. The welfare thing I agree totally with you but it will never happen because welfare benefits award you for not being married, encourages you to have more kids out of wedlock and to not even live with the father or mother of your baby. When my daughter was a month old she got very sick and had to be flown up to Childrens for about 3 weeks she was up there. her bill was more than what our insurance would cover so my husband and I applied for medical assistance just to help us with her bills and we were denied because they said we made too much money. We ended up taking out a personal loan to help us pay for the remaining balance. my niece has 3 kids and no husband and she has gotten medical assistance, food stamps, and what not for all her kids. She works full time and gets section 8 housing, so I definately agree with you when you talk about welfare but you are way off on the child support thing

            • Les Johnson

              If they didn’t need to chase half the men down to get them to support THEIR OWN KIDS it wouldn’t be a problem for the men who do take responsibility for their kids, and enjoy being a dad, not just the baby-making tool they rode in on.

              The problem is it victimizes both. How is that fair? If a dad (or a mom) demonstrates he or she is in the kids’ lives full time and pays for half of their living expenses, why should there be any child support? Most (all, every single one) moms I know who get child support spend that money on whatever they darn well please, and then complain to the dad that they aren’t paying enough when there are real expenses for the kids to pay for. There’s no accountability for that money.

              The women treat it as a gift to them for having to have been with the “baby daddy.”

            • The Trend

              Its the liberals who insist that children are a choice. Who’s choice? The woman’s of course- if it’s your choice then you shouldn’t be allowed to impose it on others.

              • mom

                It is your choice to have a child or not when you make the choice to have sex,You should know about the birds and bees by now and that if you have sex with someone pregnancy could result if you don’t take precautions to prevent it. if you don’t want someone to “impose” that choice for you make sure you get fixed, if you choose not to do that then you are fair game and need to be a man and step up to the plate and take care of your child whether or not you wanted it or not.

                • The Trend

                  The point is that women have sex with men they know can’t/won’t support them (gang members etc.)and that the county will be on the hook. You characterize men as “fair game” for a lifetime of child support- and the child’s baby too. I also think the state should use norplant on the unwed mother and vasectomy the unwed father. You’ll see this mess (enormous government entitlement deficits) cleaned up real fast

                • Les Johnson

                  And whether you do take care of your kids or not, if you aren’t married to the mother, you are treated like a criminal. The mother is not. Why is that?

                • The Trend

                  Its a blatant double standard- political correctness dictates that the least competent woman is more capable than the most competent man but women should never be held accountable for their behavior

  • Jim

    And people are worried that gays getting married will ruin the sanctity of marriage. LOL. Many straight couples have done everything they can to desecrate the institution, maybe it’s time we let gay people give it a try. Then they can vote on whether or not to let the rest of us get married.

    • just sayin'

      intellectually bankrupt answer. lets just all give up and be anarchists, LOL

  • Mike D

    Mauer and Morneau have having pretty good seasons.


      But they’re not married to each other.

  • USA Now you can get hauled into divorce court even though you never married

    […] […]

  • self made victims

    What gets me is when individuals go through cultural marriages, live together as man and wife for the rest of their lives, have numerous children together, but the “wife” can still get state assistance and medical insurance for her children because she is “single” in the eyes of the government. Dad is there, earning decent wages, contributing fully to the family, but the state says she’s still eligible.

  • Children Of Divorce Mp3 | Quick Divorce BC

    […] Can You Get Divorced If You Never Got Married? – NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Steve Murphy Reports Even though this case is unique … In the Xiong’s divorce case, issues such as child custody and division of property were put … […]

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