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If I understand correctly (I think this was in R' Aaron Lichtenstein's book on the Seven Noahide Laws), halacha recognizes a marriage between a non-Jewish man and woman if they've gone through whatever society recognizes as marriage. (Correct me please if I'm getting that wrong.)

So certainly if they were married by a justice of the peace or the like, and the state recognizes their marriage; but what about common-law marriage? Or what if their officiant wasn't actually ordained? Or didn't register as an officiant, as is required in some states?

(I'm not trying to raise any political controversies with this question; I'm just curious.)

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2 Answers 2

The Rambam (Hil. Melachim 9:7) phrases it in terms of "entering into the chuppah" - which in Talmudic terminology means that they are secluded together (what we call nowadays the "yichud room") - followed by having relations. These two things, he says, are sufficient to make a non-Jewish couple husband and wife.

(For slaves, he goes on to say (ibid. :8) that once it is generally known that "this woman is so-and-so's wife," then she is considered to be married to him - in other words, in this case not even yichud is necessary.)

Elsewhere (Hil. Ishus 1:1), too, he describes the standards that existed before the Torah was given (and, presumably, which still obtain for Noachides): a man and woman could meet in the street, decide that they want to marry, and immediately go to his house and consummate their relationship. That pretty well describes a common-law marriage.

So it doesn't sound like any kind of ceremony, or formal officiant, etc., is needed - just some kind of commitment to sexual exclusivity, followed by acting on it.

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Such as giving the other a key or actually one canceling his/her own lease and moving in? –  Yahu Aug 31 '10 at 5:21
    
That might help for the yichud part, yes. Though I'm not certain about that. –  Alex Aug 31 '10 at 16:53
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My wife and I are Bnei Noach. We had a orthodox Rabbi marry us and we had a Ketubah made. We omitted Jewish blessings that pertained exclusively to Jews and used auspices for the Torah laws for Bnei Noach where needed instead.

Having said that, from my own experience studying what I have of Jewish law and my own personal experience, bnei Noach marriages should be done in such a way for written, contractual legitimacy, but not required. If an orthodox Rabbi, or someone of acceptable stature such as another legitimate bnei Noach would officiate, then I think this is the norm to hope for all bnei Noach. However, if an orthodox Rabbi or bnei Noach of good standing can't officiate, then it seems appropriate to view the union as a pelegesh relationship: not as ultimately desirable, but still legitimate and according to its own way(non-contractual, etc).

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Why is that? Why would you think that a courtroom wedding wouldn't count as a marriage relationship? –  Daniel Jun 12 '13 at 17:43
    
@Daniel I said "someone of acceptable stature" –  EhevuTov Jun 12 '13 at 19:18
    
Ok, I assumed that by that you meant someone who observes the 7 mitzvot b'nei Noach. –  Daniel Jun 12 '13 at 19:36
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