Commenter Mike BUSL07 reminds me of a fabulous legal term -- "jactitation of marriage," "a cause of action which arises when a person falsely alleges that he or she is married to the petitioner," R.H. Graveson, Conflict of Laws 349 (7th ed. 1974) (quoted in Black's Law Dictionary). Few people these days engage in such misbehavior. The most recent extensive discussion I found of this in an American case comes from Sell v. Sell, 58 Mont. 329 (1920) (paragraph breaks added):

It is urged by counsel for respondent that the allegation of nonmarriage as a ground for affirmative relief is warranted by the course of procedure at common law and is in the nature of a cross-bill setting forth the grounds of complaint in an action for jactitation of marriage.

Anciently, at common law, where one person, not being married to another, pretended that a marriage existed between them and proclaimed it to others, the person against whom the claim was made, upon due proof, was entitled to a decree enjoining the offender from the false boasting. Cases of that character arose occasionally in England, but they were peculiarly within the cognizance of the ecclesiastical courts. (Blackstone, 93). The action, however, fell into disrepute in 1776, when the House of Lords in the Duchess of Kingstone's Case (20 How. St. Tr. 543) decided that the final decree was not conclusive of the fact of nonmarriage.

In this jurisdiction the power to decree a divorce is purely statutory. (Rumping v. Rumping, 36 Mont. 39, 12 Ann. Cas. 1090, 12 L. R. A. (n. s.) 1197, 91 P. 1057.) Ample provision is apparently made by our Codes for the protection of the marital relation, and the significant fact that an action is authorized to establish marriage whenever either party to it denies the existence of the relationship (sec. 3634, Rev. Codes), tends to negative the existence of the right which is now sought to be asserted.

We think it can be said in all fairness that the right of action for jactitation of marriage has never been recognized as warranted by the common law as it was introduced in and adopted by this country.

Jactitation of screwing around, on the other hand, sounds like a cause of action with a future.

This was the best part of the BarBri course. One of the 2 or 3 good lecturers had this subject.
8.23.2007 3:42pm
Rumping v. Rumping, 36 Mont. 39, 12 Ann. Cas. 1090, 12 L. R. A. (n. s.) 1197, 91 P. 1057

That citation goes in the "I'm not making this up" category
8.23.2007 3:43pm
Paul Hsieh (mail) (www):
Tommy Flanagan (the Jon Lovitz character aka "the Pathological Liar" from SNL) is greatly relieved. As is Morgan Fairchild, who happens to be his wife...
8.23.2007 3:48pm
Extraneus (mail):
So did she get 30 days for jactitation?
8.23.2007 4:00pm
arthur (mail):
A sort of jactitation case, leading to pcriminal prosecution, was in the news just last week
8.23.2007 4:00pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Someone claiming to be your wife when you weren't married would certainly be annoying.

But if they were claiming to be your wife so that they could steal money, claim to make medical or legal decisions for you, etc. I assume that all those things could be handled with the laws against fraud, extrinsic fraud, forgery, embezzlement, misrepresentation, and the like. If they were using the family law to violate your rights aren't there provisions to deal with fraudulent or sham marriages, fraud, etc.?
8.23.2007 4:08pm
Rich B. (mail):
This seems to conflict with the doctrine of "common law marriage" -- very common in Pennsylvania until less than a decade ago when it was outlawed. Essentially, all you needed was mutual jactitation and you were legally married in the eyes of the Commonwealth.
8.23.2007 4:28pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I could certainly see a need for the doctrine in common law marriage states, Rich. As I recall, one must cohabitate AND that you hold yourselves out to others (not formally, just in the course of everyday living) as being married. If one party wanted to cohabitate but NOT be married, and the other party was running around telling people that the two of you were, you'd want some way to stop them from doing so, wouldn't you? Moving out alone wouldn't necessarily solve the problem, as you previously had been cohabitating, and his or her prior declarations to that effect, and perhaps even their later declarations characterizing the previous relationship, could have legal consequences on both parties.

Beyond that, anybody engaging in this sort of behavior is either trying to commit fraud or is one seriously scary/creep stalker, so I'd rather like to see the cause of action remain in good standing.
8.23.2007 4:57pm
BobH (mail):
"Jactitation of screwing around ... sounds like a cause of action with a future."

Don't screw around with jactitation -- you could go blind!
8.23.2007 5:43pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Jactitation of screwing around, on the other hand, sounds like a cause of action with a future.

that was the Humping vs Humping decision.
8.23.2007 7:01pm
If anyone is ever bored and in a good law library, I highly recommending reading some Howell's State Trials at random.
Another good series (not sure what it's called) is the collection of transcripts of famous English cases, mostly murders from the early 20th century. Either the editors made up the speeches, or everyone then talked as if they were aiming from the melodramatist of the year prize. E.g., Judge: I only hope that in those few brief hours left to you, before you are to be called before a much greater tribunal than any on this earth, you shall most earnestly reflect on the deeds you have done, and seek forgiveness from He is who is the greatest judge of all.
Prisoner: O, my lord! Though I say again that I am innocent, I dare not ask you to forbear from passing the only sentence which the law allows. And alas, what would life on this earth be worth without my poor Bess! Farewell.
8.23.2007 7:24pm
BobH (mail):
Naah, that's how people used to talk in England. It was a merry olde place.
8.23.2007 7:32pm
Luis (mail) (www):
To this day we use <i>jactar</i> in Spanish for "to boast, to brag". E.g., <i>se jacta de ser doctor</i> "s/he boasts of being a doctor".

Just for fun.
8.23.2007 8:44pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I'm sure EV won't mind (though others may) if I point out that the etymology of 'jactitation' is quite unusual: it's a double frequentative. Some Latin verbs are made from other verbs by adding T or IT to the root to give the idea of repetition. So cano = 'I sing' and canto = 'I sing over and over, croon, chant' (like a child or a drunk), while ago = 'I do, drive, push', and agito = 'I do or drive repeatedly, shake, stir up'. We get 'act' and 'agitate' from ago and agito respectively.

Very rarely -- I can't think of another example -- Latin makes a frequentative out of something that is already frequentative. In this case iacio = 'I throw', iacto with an added T = 'I throw repeatedly, toss around' and (oddly) 'I boast', and iactito with an extra T and an extra IT = 'I boast repeatedly'. (Translations are approximate: the meanings tend to overlap.) Presumably you have to claim you're secretly married to someone more than once before (s)he can sue.
8.23.2007 11:38pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I should have read Luis' comment before writing my own. Spanish 'jactar' must come directly from the Latin single frequentative iactare, which also means (among other things) 'boast'.
8.23.2007 11:40pm
Wire (mail) (www):
Yes, Essentially, all you needed was mutual jactitation and you were legally married in the eyes of the Commonwealth.
8.24.2007 12:05am
CJ71 (mail):
"Gay marriage" is an extreme case of jactitation, one in which State officials and courts are sometimes complicit.
8.24.2007 7:35am
MartinEd (mail):
CJ71 beat me to the punch here. But, haven't you, by raising the memory of "jactitation of marriage," initiated a whole knew area of activity.
The mayor of San Francisco "married" a number of homosexual couples on the steps of city hall (later invalidated). When one of those couples goes to Kansas, there are reasons why they'd want to be "married" and reasons why they wouldn't.
And, the concept of homosexual marriage, in the eyes of its proponents, seems to require an acceptable stereotype; that homosexuals, when legally married, will live happily ever after.
I see no reason to believe that a mated couple of homosexuals will get along over time any better than a mated couple of hetrosexuals. Can't we now predict that homosexuals wishing to get out a of a relationship sanctioned, to some extent, by a civil or religious authority, will glom onto the concept of "jactitation of marriage" to get out from under and that, from your point of mention on out, we will see more of this concept?
8.25.2007 2:03pm