Suing Someone Because They Forced You to Marry

By Jedidiah McKeehan

In the US we normally think of arranged marriages as a thing of the past. Likewise, we have all seen enough romantic movies and TV shows that we generally think that people marry each other because they love each other, not because the marriage is forced upon someone.

However, in the event that a marriage is forced upon someone, the person forced into the marriage can sue the people who forced them into the marriage.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-3-108 states: “A person who is forced, whether by violence, threats or coercion, to marry another shall have a cause of action against any party who forced the person to marry. A claim under this section shall not be based on parental or familial guidance motivated by the person’s best interest, which is expressed in a reasonable manner.”

My first question when reading this is how someone would prove they were forced to marry someone. Are you going to testify that they said they would physically harm you if you did not marry them? If you do, I am sure they will deny it, and then the question is if you have any other witnesses who heard this threat or your testimony is much more believable than the other persons. Further, the law also seems to allow an out for parents who are setting up an arranged marriage that they believe is in their child’s best interests, which I am guessing is still happening somewhere in Tennessee.

If someone is able to prove that they were forced into a marriage, the law goes on to state what they can obtain if they are successful in their lawsuit. They can potentially recover, “damages of up to $250,000.00; reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, and a ruling that the marriage is void.”

If someone does pursue a lawsuit under this law, they must do so within 10 years of the marriage occurring.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.