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Clergyman or Officer Violating Article; Penalty

Although getting married is a beautiful, romantic event, in order for the marriage to be legal, there are certain requirements that must be followed. First, the couple must obtain a marriage license. Then, the couple must have the marriage solemnized by an authorized person. Any person who is authorized to solemnize a marriage is only permitted to solemnize marriages of those who have obtained a marriage license as required by New York law. Otherwise, the marriage would not be legal and the person solemnizing the marriage would have committed a misdemeanor. If you are facing a legal complication related to your marriage or impending marriage, contact the experienced New York family lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience representing clients in complex family-related matters, we have the skill and resources to help.

Marriage License Requirement

Before you attempt to get a marriage license, it is important to understand who can get married in New York. If you or your intended spouse are not deemed to be competent to marry, then there are three potential results. The town or city clerk will not issue you a marriage license. If you do get a license and get married, your marriage will be void. Or, your marriage will be voidable pursuant to an action for annulment.

Generally, you must be at least 18 years old. You cannot marry anyone who has a close familial relationship to you, including your grandparents, parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, or nephews. Only those who are mentally competent can marry. If a party has been mentally ill for at least 5 years, a marriage involving that person is voidable. If you are already married, you cannot get married until your current marriage is terminated by divorce or by annulment. Because bigamy is illegal in New York, an attempt to marry again while already married will fail and the marriage would be void.

Marriage licenses are available from a city or town’s clerk office. To get a marriage license, both parties must be present. You must present identification and pay a fee. If you have been married before, you must indicate that on the application. If you are divorced, you must show proof of divorce.

Authority to Solemnize

After you receive your marriage license, you will not be legally married until your marriage is solemnized. This means that you must have some sort of religious or civil marriage ceremony, officiated by someone who is authorized to do so. In addition to clergy, the law allows several government officials to officiate marriages, including marriage officers, judges, justices of the peace, and mayors. There must be at least one witness.

You must wait at least 24 hours from the time the license was issued before you can have your marriage solemnized. A marriage license is valid for 60 days.

Before a person officiates a marriage, the couple must present a valid marriage license. According to NY Dom Rel Law § 17, if the officiant goes forward with solemnizing a marriage in the absence of a marriage license, the officiant would have committed a misdemeanor. The punishment includes both a fine and imprisonment. It is also a misdemeanor to solemnize any marriage with knowledge that either party is legally incompetent to contract matrimony.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Marriages of minors under seventeen years of age: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 15-a
  2. False statements and affidavits: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 16
  3. Clergymen or officer, when protected: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 18
Domestic Relations Law, section 17: Clergyman or Officer Violating Article; Penalty

If any clergyman or other person authorized by the laws of this state to perform marriage ceremonies shall solemnize or presume to solemnize any marriage between any parties without a license being presented to him or them as herein provided or with knowledge that either party is legally incompetent to contract matrimony as is provided for in this article he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not less than fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Laws related to matrimony and family are complicated. If you are facing a difficult family legal issue, to ensure that your interests are represented by someone with experienced, contact an New York family lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experiencing handling complex legal issues for our clients with skill and sensitivity, we can help. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Suffolk County, Staten Island, Westchester County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Manhattan.

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My ex-husband hadn't paid child support or the mortgage on the house as he was supposed to. Stephen Bilkis and his team of lawyers were amazing. They stopped the foreclosure on the house, Got a judgment against him and most importantly kept me and my children in the house. Can't say enough good things about him in the firm their compassion hard work and dedication were exceptional. I.G.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin