A rich New Jersey couple's battle over "hundreds of millions of dollars" is riding on a technicality:

Because their marriage license was issued after the wedding, they were never legally married, so they can't get legally divorced, the husband is arguing.

Never mind that they had three children and lived together for two decades.

It's a strange case, involving connections to the NFL, domestic abuse, and the pre-trial intervention program used by running back Ray Rice, notorious for knocking out his then-fiancee in an elevator at an Atlantic City hotel.

Attorneys for Michael Mandelbaum – son of David Mandelbaum, a minority owner of the Minnesota Vikings – made the motion to dismiss the divorce case in May, but the case was just brought to public attention Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

Documents show that Debra A. DeAngelis and Michael Jay Mandelbaum were married on Dec. 12, 1993, but that the marriage license, applied for on Dec. 10, was issued on Dec. 21.

The filing cited cases where ceremonial marriages were declared void, quoting an appellate court's ruling that the law "requires that a license to marry be procured before the ceremony."

In June, Debra Mandelbaum's attorneys filed documents showing that he certainly behaved as if they were legally married, including joint tax returns, deeds, and greeting cards with the messages "For my wife" and "After 20 years I'd marry you all over again," according to the Journal.

Michael Mandelbaum, who made $6.6 million in 2012, "handles the legal affairs of his family," which has stakes in the Vikings and Vornado Realty Trust, according to the Journal. Their six-bedroom home in Warren, Somerset County, is worth about $2 million, according to Zillow.

The parties are expected in court next month.

In December, after Debra Mandelbaum was found half-conscious at the bottom of stairs in their home, she alleged he pushed her, and she obtained a temporary restraining order, according to the Journal.

"Mr. Mandelbaum was charged with aggravated assault in the third degree but was accepted into a pretrial intervention program which, once completed, would result in the charge being dropped," the Journal writes.

Ray Rice was also charged with third-degree aggravated assault and accepted into a pretrial intervention program. That decision was widely questioned as too lenient, especially after the release of a video showing Rice punching Janay Parker, now his wife, inside an elevator at the Revel Casino.

Michael Mandelbaum's father, David Mandelbaum, is one of the wealthiest people in America, according to Forbes, which put the worth of "David Mandelbaum & family" at $900 million last year.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com. Follow @petemucha on Twitter.