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Clergymen or Officer, When Protected

In New York the process for getting married is straightforward. The couple must present identification, pay a fee, complete an application for a marriage license, and get married. However, because not everyone is considered competent to enter into a marriage commitment, there are rules related to who can get married. You must be least 18 years to get married without parental consent and at least 14 to get married with parental consent. You must not be married to another living person. In addition, you must be mentally competent. Only those who have the capacity to understand what it means to get married and the commitment involved can get married. While those performing marriage ceremonies should not marry anyone that they know is not competent, the law does provide clergy and others who perform marriage ceremonies protection against liability for marrying incompetent individuals. The New York family attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over 2 decades of experience advocating for families. If you have a family law related legal issue, we can help.

Protection of clergy and officers

New York Domestic Relations Law includes a detailed list of those who have the authority to solemnize a marriage, including:

  • Clergy
  • Leaders of the Society of Ethical Culture
  • Mayor or former mayor of a city or town in New York
  • Current or retired Federal, state, or local judges or justices, elected or appointed in the State of New York
  • Clerk of the Appellate Division of the First or Second Department
  • Federal circuit court of appeals for the second circuit, a judge of a federal district court for the northern, southern, eastern or western district of New York
  • Governor or former governor of New York
  • Others as described in Dom Rel. Law § 11

Anyone who has the authority to solemnize a marriage may lawfully solemnize any particular marriage as long as he or she has no personal knowledge that either member of the couple is not competent. If it is later determined that one of the parties was incompetent at the time that the marriage was solemnized, the person who solemnized the marriage could not be held accountable. In such instance the marriage would be voidable upon petition.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Marriage a civil contract: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 11
  2. Marriage licenses: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 13
  3. Time within which marriage may be solemnized: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 13-b
Domestic Relations Law, section 18: Clergymen or officer, when protected

Any such clergymen or officer as aforesaid to whom any such license duly issued may come and not having personal knowledge of the incompetency of either party therein named to contract matrimony, may lawfully solemnize matrimony between them.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Whether you are planning to get married or you are considering getting a divorce, the experienced New York family lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the skill and knowledge to help our through any complex legal issues that might develop. In addition, we have the skill and resources to represent your interests in other family related matters such as divorce, child custody, and child support. 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, Queens, Suffolk County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
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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.
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