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Marriage Officers

In order to get married in New York, there are two steps that you must take. You must get a marriage license, and the marriage must be solemnized by an authorized person. Solemnization refers to a ceremony during which before at least one witness the couple states that they take each other as husband and wife. For a marriage to be valid, it must be solemnized by an authorized person. According to NY Dom Rel Law §11c, marriage officers appointed by the governing body of a municipality have the authority to solemnize marriages, along with other authorized individuals such as clergy. Whether you are planning to get married, you are considering getting a divorce, or you are facing with other family legal matters, the experienced New York family lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the skill and knowledge to help you through any complex family-related legal issues that might develop.

Solemnizing marriages

It is the responsibility of the governing bodies of villages, towns, and cities in New York to appoint individuals to perform marriage ceremonies. Those individuals will have the authority to solemnize marriages as is required to make a marriage legal in New York. Others who have the authority to solemnize marriages are listed in NY Dom Rel Law § 11, and include clergy, the governor, judges, and many others. The term of a marriage officer can be up to 4 years.

Marriage officers appointed by the governing bodies of villages, towns, and cities must be at least 18 and must live in the municipality by which there are appointed. Each marriage officer’s authority to solemnize marriages shall extend to only solemnizing marriages within the territory of the municipality that appoints him or her. The governing body of the municipality will determine the number of marriage officers that it will appoint.

The municipality has the discretion as to whether its marriage officers receive salaries or wages. If they do, then the marriage officer is not allowed to accept remuneration from anyone else. In other words, the marriage officer is not permitted to accept payment from the couple, the couple’s family, friends, or anyone else. However, if the marriage officer does not get paid from the municipality, he or she is permitted to accept payment from another source. The maximum payment is $75.00.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Marriage a civil contract: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 11
  2. Marriage, how solemnized: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 12
  3. Marriages licenses: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 13
Domestic Relations Law, section 11-c: Marriage officers
  1.  Notwithstanding the provisions of section eleven of this article or any other law, the governing body of any village, town, or city may appoint one or more marriage officers who shall have the authority to solemnize a marriage which marriage shall be valid if performed in accordance with other provisions of law. Nothing herein contained shall nullify the authority of other persons authorized to solemnize marriages.
  2.  The number of such marriage officers appointed for a municipality shall be determined by the governing body of the municipality. Such marriage officers shall be eighteen years of age or over, and they shall reside in the municipality by which they are appointed. A marriage officer shall have the authority to solemnize a marriage within the territory of the municipality which makes the appointment.
  3.  A marriage officer may receive a salary or wage in an amount to be determined by the governing body of the municipality which appoints him or her. In the event that a marriage officer receives a salary or wage, he or she shall not receive any remuneration or consideration from any other source for performing his or her duties. In the event that a marriage officer does not receive a salary or wage, he or she may accept and keep up to seventy-five dollars for each marriage at which he or she officiates, paid by or on behalf of the persons married.
  4.  The term of office of a marriage officer shall be as determined by the governing body which makes the appointment but shall not exceed four years. A marriage officer shall serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority and may be removed from office with or without cause on ten days written notice filed with the clerk of the municipality and sent by registered mail return receipt requested to the marriage officer.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

We understand that family matters can be difficult and stressful. Facing the complexities of New York law and procedure alone can make the matter even more difficult. Whether you have concerns as you are entering a marriage, or your marriage is ending, the experienced New York family lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help you through this difficult time and ensure that your legal interests are protected. 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.

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