Until Death Do You Part? The Strange Case of the Spectral Spouse

Kyle Green, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

An Irish Woman has called it quits with the ghost of the pirate that inspired Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise after two years of “marriage.”[1] After watching the popular movie franchise, Amanda Teague found herself enamored by Captain Jack Sparrow. Amanda Teague even went as far as changing her appearance to look like the pirates from the movie and changing her name to include “Sparrow.”[2]This still wasn’t enough for Ms. Teague though. She claims a 300-year-old Haitian ghost contacted her shortly after her name change, resulting in a consensual sexual relationship between the two. The two later married in international waters after Amanda told the ghost she needed a more committed relationship.[3] In January 2017, Amanda, her ghostly groom, her adult children, and a registered Irish marriage officiant set sail for international waters for a wedding ceremony where their marriage had a better chance of legal marriage status, since posthumous marriage is not explicitly afforded such a right in the Northern Ireland or the U.K.[4] 

Unfortunately, this love story didn’t last long, as the couple, in particular Ms. Teague, filed for divorce after just a year of marriage.[5] IrishCentral reports that she cites the difficulties of maintaining contact with the medium as major reason for their breakup and urges all those interested in the supernatural to take that into consideration before entering a relationship with other worldly entities.[6] People say communication is key to a happy marriage, perhaps her ghostly husband had too many skeletons in the closet to maintain a lasting relationship. It is worth noting that the divorce announcement comes around the same time she is set to release her book detailing her experience with the pirate-ghost husband titled “A Life You Will Remember”.

            There is some debate as to whether Ms. Teague was legally married in the first place, even if she traveled to international waters. Marriages in international water can generally be upheld as long as they come attached with the correct formalities, such as an affidavit from the ship’s captain that they traveled to the correct area of the ocean, and signed statements from both parties of the marriage that they intended it to legally bind them in their country of citizenship; the latter requirement seems to be lacking in this case.[7] While some countries like France will uphold a posthumous marriage in extreme circumstances through Presidential approval, Northern Ireland does not include such an exception.[8] For a marriage to be legal in Northern Ireland, both parties must be “capable of understanding the nature of a marriage ceremony and of agreeing to themarriage.”[9] Since there is no way to confirm that the ghostly husband consented to the marriage with Amanda, it would be difficult to understand how they could confer legal status on the arrangement.

            If marrying a 300 year old pirate ghost made Amanda happy, whether conferred legal status or not, then more power to her. Countries are entitled to set limits on who can enjoy the legal benefits of marriage status, but for Amanda, this was less about the tax benefits and more about the love and joy she believed she felt for a pirate ghost she became enamored with. If anything, she might end up saving herself time and money by not being given legal status. Instead of a lengthy court proceeding on how to split her assets and the pirate ghost’s plunder, Amanda Teague can simply change her name back and find a captain with a ship worthier of her vessel.  Perhaps this is all part of a larger marketing plan for Amanda Teague’s book release, but is it so hard to believe someone could want to find love in a ghostly entity? After all, Amanda’s relationship with the pirate ghost might be more real than most of the relationship on the internet in this day and age.


[1] Frances Mulraney. Irish Woman who marries 300-year-old pirate ghost announces break up. https://www.irishcentral.com/news/pirate-ghost-husband-breakup (December 11, 2018).

[2] Frances Mulraney. Irish Woman who marries 300-year-old pirate ghost announces break up. https://www.irishcentral.com/news/pirate-ghost-husband-breakup (December 11, 2018).

[3] Frances Mulraney. Irish Woman who marries 300-year-old pirate ghost announces break up. https://www.irishcentral.com/news/pirate-ghost-husband-breakup (December 11, 2018).

[4] Dan Macguill. Did an Irish Woman Legally Marry the Ghost of a Pirate from the 1700s?. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ghost-pirate-marriage/

[5] Dan Macguill. Did an Irish Woman Legally Marry the Ghost of a Pirate from the 1700s?. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ghost-pirate-marriage/

[6] Frances Mulraney. Irish Woman who marries 300-year-old pirate ghost announces break up. https://www.irishcentral.com/news/pirate-ghost-husband-breakup (December 11, 2018).

[7] Dan Macguill. Did an Irish Woman Legally Marry the Ghost of a Pirate from the 1700s?. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ghost-pirate-marriage/

[8] Dan Macguill. Did an Irish Woman Legally Marry the Ghost of a Pirate from the 1700s?. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ghost-pirate-marriage/. citing LegiFrance. “Code Civil – Article 171” LegiFrance. May 17, 2011.

[9] Nidirect Government Services. Marriage and Registration. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/guidance-marriage-procedures-northern-ireland. (