Newport News couple learns they were never legally married 26 years after ceremony

Virginia News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Back in 1995, Valerie and William Beverley were concerned about two things: getting married and catching their honeymoon.

Neither of those directly involved making sure their marriage license made it to Richmond. In hindsight? They might have double-checked that it did.

This past May, Valerie went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get an updated Virginia driver’s license but was told she needed her marriage license due to her maiden name being on her social security card.

The DMV clerk offered to search the system for Valerie, but came back soon after and said no licenses matching her information turned up.

A concerned phone call to William and a letter to Richmond’s vital statistic’s record-holders later — the couple would learn their marriage license was never filed.

“About two weeks ago we finally received the letter in the mail from the Virginia Department of Health saying they have searched the records for 1985 to 2005 and there is no record of our marriage,” Valerie said.

What about filing taxes? The couple says they were filing jointly under the impression they were married.

Does Virginia have “Common Law Marriages”? According to the State Bar, no.

It says: “A common law marriage is one by agreement of two people who consider themselves married without any formal ceremony or license and hold themselves out as married. Such arrangements are not marriages in Virginia, but they will be recognized here if they were valid in the state where they took place and if they were between people who would have been eligible to marry under Virginia law.”

Through all the confusion and anxiety, there was one thing the Beverleys knew for sure. Since the day they thought they married, they agreed separation was never an option.

This “I do” snafu didn’t change that.

Which is why the couple gathered Thursday at the same church they stood in 27 years ago to the day and said those vows for a second time. Some faces who were there for the original wedding are no longer with us today, but still with family members in spirit.

“My youngest son, his name is John Beverley, and he’s my best man… and it chokes me up a little bit ’cause he’s named after his grandfather, my dad. My dad was the best man when we got married last time. His name was John Beverley,” William said.

With time, all things change, but the Beverley’s have proven their love for each other has not. There is one thing they are doing differently this time around regarding their marriage license.

“We’re gonna hand take it down to the courthouse to make sure that it gets there,” the couple said together.

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