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Penalty for Violation

When you choose to get married in New York, there are rules and procedures that you must follow, including getting a marriage license. You must complete and submit your application form with the city or town clerk. It is the responsibility of the clerk to review applications to make sure that all of the appropriate information is there and to sign off on them. The job of the clerk is very important. If the clerk fails to follow the law when carrying out his or her duties with respect to marriages licenses and marriage records, according to NY Dom Rel Law § 22, the clerk may face criminal charges. While getting married typically is not a complicated process, there are many rules and regulations related to the process that must be followed. While the burden is on the government officials to make sure that proper procedure is followed, it is also important that those seeking to get married understand the requirements. If you have questions or concerns related to the legal status of your marriage, or if you have any other concerns related to your family, contact an experienced New York family lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Responsibilities of city and town clerks

While the Commissioner of the Department of Health has overall responsibility of providing the towns and cities with forms and instructions related to marriage, and of maintaining marriage records, the commissioner has delegated some of the duties to city and town clerks.

Clerks of towns and cities are responsible for providing couples wishing to get married with the required forms. To get married you must complete an application for a marriage license. While you can initiate the application online, because the application is actually an affidavit, you must complete it at a clerk’s office, and you must sign it in the presence of the clerk. When you sign the affidavit, you are swearing or affirming that the information you included in the form is true.

The application for a marriage licenses requires each party to provide detailed information about themselves, including your name, where you live, when you were born, where you were born, and who your parents are. It also requires you to disclose information about past marriages, the names of your former spouses, and whether the marriage ended in death, divorce, or annulment.

There are restrictions on who can marry. Generally, you must be at least 18 years old to marry. If you are over 17, but under 18, you must first get permission from your parents and a judge before receiving a marriage license. You are only permitted to have one living spouse at a time. If your prior marriage was not terminated or annulled, you are not eligible to receive a marriage license. Furthermore, incestuous marriages are illegal. If you are closely related, you are not eligible to receive a marriage license.

The law permits same-sex marriages. Town and city clerks are required to issue marriage licenses regardless of whether the couple is different sex or same sex.

Town and city clerks have responsibilities beyond issuing marriage licenses. They also are responsible for recording marriages and maintaining marriage records

If in a town or city clerk violates the law by, for example, failing to check the identification of applicants and ends up issuing a marriage license to a minor, or refuses to issue a marriage license solely because the couple is same sex, the clerk would have violated the law and would have committed a misdemeanor.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Records to be kept by the state department of health and the city clerk of the city of New York: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 20
  2. Certified transcripts of records; state commissioner of health may furnish: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 20-a
  3. Certification of marriage; state commissioner of health may furnish: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 20-b
Domestic Relations Law, section 22: Penalty for violation

Any town or city clerk who shall violate any of the provisions of this article or shall fail to comply therewith shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall pay a fine not exceeding the sum of one hundred dollars on conviction thereof.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

As you prepare to get married, it is important that you understand the rules and procedures as town and city clerks are required to follow them. If you run into a legal complication before or after you get married, immediately contact an experienced New York family lawyer who understands the legal intricacies of New York’s Domestic Relations Law. Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates 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: Suffolk County, Bronx, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Westchester County.

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