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Supervision of and Inspection of Town and City Clerks' Records by State Commissioner of Health

When getting married in New York, you must go to the office of the clerk of a town or city to get a marriage license. In fact, the clerk is responsible for issuing licenses and maintaining marriage records. However, the New York State commissioner of health has the overall responsibility for marriage records. To ensure that town and city clerks are following the rules and properly managing marriage records, the commissioner of health has the right to inspect them at any time. New York has many rules and regulations related to the process of getting married, and the rights and responsibilities of couples during marriage as well as in the event of divorce. If a complex legal issue develops related to your marriage, contact a New York family lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to represent your interests with skill and sensitivity.

Inspection of Marriage Records

The first step in getting married is that the couple must go to the office of the town or city clerk and complete an application for a marriage license. If everything is in order, the clerk will issue a marriage license. After the marriage is solemnized, the officiant must sign the license and return it to the clerk. The clerk will then send you a certified copy of your marriage record.

As you can see, there are several steps that must be followed related to your marriage paperwork. The clerk is responsible for or receives record of each completed step. However, because the commissioner of health has overall responsibility for marriage records, according to NY Dom Rel Law § 23, for marriages that take place outside of New York City the commissioner has the right to inspect marriage licenses and issue rules related to the registration of marriage licenses. The commissioner may inspect the record him or herself or may direct an accredited person to do so.

If an inspection uncovers a violation of the rules, when appropriate the commissioner may report the violation to the district attorney for prosecution of the clerk or other person responsible for the violation.

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 23: Supervision of and inspection of town and
city clerks' records by state commissioner of health
The registration and recording of all marriages outside the city of New York shall be under the supervision of the state commissioner of health. The commissioner, either personally or by an accredited representative, may at any time inspect the record and index of marriage licenses issued by any town or city clerk and promulgate rules and regulations for insuring complete registration. When he shall deem it necessary, he shall report cases of violation of any of the provisions of this article to the district attorney of the county, with a statement of the facts and circumstances; and when any such case is reported to him by the state commissioner of health, the prosecuting attorney shall forthwith initiate and promptly follow up the necessary court proceedings against the person or persons responsible for the alleged violation of law. Upon request of the state commissioner of health, the attorney-general shall assist in the enforcement of the provisions of this article.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Whether your legal issue is related to your marriage records, of if it is related to another issue, we can help. The New York family lawyers at the Laws Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over 20 years of experience representing clients who are facing complex family-related issues. Whether the matter is a divorce, separation, child custody, spousal support, or 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.

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