The importance of proving the validity of a marriage is not limited to the practice of family and has far-reaching social, legal, and economic implications in other areas of the law as well. For example, wrongful death statutes in Virginia limit recovery of a statutory beneficiary to the legal spouse rather than the de facto spouse. Other areas of the law including intestate succession and probate law, real property law, Social Security benefits, worker's compensation statutes, insurance benefits, and spousal support rights are likewise directly affected by the validity of a marriage.
Thus, a Virginia practitioner, during the course of his or her legal career, must have a good understanding of Virginia state marital requirements, separate and apart from any divorce litigation.
Peter Nash Swisher, Proving the Validity of Marriage, Va. Law., Dec. 1994 at 29.