OBTAINING A LICENSE IN NYS, PUBLICATION #4210
DISCLAIMER/NOTE: this is
a compilation of my own research and paraphrased from NYS Publication #4210.
For an opinion on the law you should contact an attorney licensed to practice in the State of New York.
Applying for License
Must be applied for by both parties, together, and in person. Is applied for at any Town
or City Hall issuing marriage licenses and is valid anywhere in New York State.
Age requirements are the same for both male and female.
Age and Necessary Consent
18 or greater. This is the age of legal consent. Permission by anyone is not required.
16 and 17 years of age. Permission of both parents is required at the time of applying for a marriage license.
14 and 15 years of age. Permission of both parents and a court order by a judge is required at the time of
applying for a marriage license.
Under the age of 14. Marriage is not permitted.
A marriage relationship can be created only between a male and female. A ceremony in
which both parties are of the same sex is a nullity by which no legal relationship can be created.
A marriage license is not good for the first 24 hours after the time (hour and minute) of its issuance. This may be waived
by a judge of the supreme court for reasons of hardship. The license is good for 60 days from issuance. (As a point of
interest 47 states do not require a waiting period; 5 do. The range is from 24 hours in New York to 5 days in Utah.)
Mental and Physical Capacity
Since the contract of marriage must be consented to by both parties about to enter into this status, it is essential that
both are mentally aware of the various obligations and legal rights which arise by reason of the marriage contract.
Therefore, no person who is insane or an idiot may contract a legal marriage. A party to a marriage must have the
physical capacity necessitated by the marriage relationship. This means there must be no structural physical defect
which makes cohabitation impossible and it presently applies to freedom from venereal disease in addition. Most
states have made it a statutory requirement that the male, or, in some states, both parties have a serological test within
a specified time limit before the marriage takes place and the certificate of a physician stating that the party is free form
this form of disease before the license to marry be obtained. Forty-six states require a medical, six (including New York) do not.
If previously married proof of the dissolution of that marriage must be presented at the time of applying for a new license.
Examples of such proof include: 1) a divorce decree showing the date of filing and against whom actions was taken,
2) papers of annulment, and 3) a death certificate.
Approximately $25 depending upon locality.
Second or Subsequent Ceremony
For one reason or another some couples have a "civil" ceremony performed while preparing or waiting for a religious
ceremony. The Officiant of the subsequent religious ceremony may require that a license be presented before performing
the ceremony. In that case a couple already legally married may apply for a second or subsequent license. As is the
case with the first ceremony, the issuing Town or City will once again issue a Certificate of Marriage Registration.
(As a point of interest, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia require that there must be a religious ceremony, and although
there is no particular form of ceremony required by law the parties must consent to the marriage and express their
intent to enter into the relationship of husband and wife.)
Components of a License /Affidavit/Certificate of Marriage
There are 3 parts* to the marriage license:
1) an Affidavit. The Affidavit portion is a written declaration made under oath before a town or city clerk attesting to the
truth of the information pro-vided. It reads, "I, being duly sworn, depose and say, that to the best of my knowledge
and belief that the information I provided is true and that I declare that no legal impediment exists as to my right to
enter into the marriage state." Providing false information, such as not reporting a previous marriage not been legally
dissolved through either divorce or annulment, is one such example. Not only is this an act of perjury (intentional
lying under oath) but the subsequent ceremony would make the offender guilty of bigamy as well.
2) the License. The License portion authorizes the marriage cere-mony to take place by any person authorized to
do so in §11 of New York Domestic Relations Law. This person is generically referred to as the Officiant. As previously
mentioned, this may be issued for a second or subsequent ceremony, usually religious.
3) the Certificate of Marriage. The Certificate portion is filled in by the Officiant. It states, "I certify that I solemnized
the marriage of the persons named above on the date and at the time and place indicated."
* Except the 5 boroughs of NYC in which the license is different.
Return of Certificate
The Officiant of a marriage ceremony is required by law to return the completed "Affidavit,
License and Certificate of Marriage" within five days succeeding the date of the ceremony. Failure to do so may
result in a penalty of not less than $25 nor more than $50 for each and every of-fense.
Penalty for Clergyman or Officer Violating Article
If any clergyman or other person authorized by the laws of New York 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 incompe-tent 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. (Article 3, §17 DRL, NYS). (As a point of interest, There are penalties provided by statute against the
officer who issues a marriage license unlawfully or against a person who performs a ceremony when he is
without authority to do so. The law of Nevada, for example, states that a person who undertakes to join others in
marriage, knowing that he is not lawfully authorized to do so or that there is a legal impediment to the marriage,
is subject to a fine and imprisonment. These penalties do not apply to the parties who have been so married.
As stated in the Maine statute: a marriage solemnized before a known resident of the state professing to be duly
authorized is not invalid because of lack of authority, nor is the marriage invalidated by omission or informality in
entering intention of marriage, provided the marriage is in other respects lawful and is consummated with full
belief of either party that they are lawfully married.)
Requirements of a Marriage Ceremony
Article 3, §12 of the Domestic Relations Law of New York states how a marriage may be solemnized. "No particular form
or ceremony is required when a marriage is solemnized as herein provided by a clergyman or magistrate, but the parties
must solemnly declare in the presence of a clergyman or magistrate and the attending witness or witnesses that they
take each other as husband and wife. In every case at least one witness beside the clergyman or magistrate must be
present at the ceremony." (Theoretically then a marriage ceremony can, if properly worded and carefully choreographed,
be performed in under 5 sec.) There is no law stating where (or not where) a ceremony may take place within New York.
If performed on a boat offshore in New York the Officiant must be aware of the town or village having jurisdiction of that
waterway. If performed while above ground, as in an airplane, balloon, or parachuting the town, village or city below is the
location of record.
Requirements of Clergy
A clergyman or minister of any religion having authority of his denomination, order, church or synagogue may solemnize
marriages in the State of New York whether or not ordained, a resident of New York, or occupying a pulpit. There is, moreover,
no statutory provision relative to the age at which one may solemnize a marriage.(For verification of The Rev. Dr. Adamovich's
authority to perform wedding ceremonies within the City of New York and, therefore, the State of NY.)
Solemnization of a Marriage
Article 3, §11 of The Domestic Relations Law of New York states by whom a marriage must be solemnized. "No marriage
shall be valid unless solemnized by either: 1) A clergyman or minister of any religion...or by the senior leader...of The
Society of Ethical Culture..., 2) A mayor..., or 3) A justice or judge of a court of record."
The Certificate portion of a marriage license is usually witnessed by two persons, very often the best man and maid of
honor. Only one witness is required by New York law. There is no legal limit as to the age of a witness. The use of a
child from a previous marriage, but possibly the current relationship, is permissible. (As a point of interest, the requirement
for witnesses and their number varies in the different states. Whether or not a marriage has taken place between the
parties, if this should become questionable, must be proven by the rules of evidence in the state in which this fact must
be decided. The signature of at least one competent witness, in addition to the Officiant, is evidence in New York that the
marriage ceremony has taken place.)
Finally, by definition:
1. a. The state of being married; wedlock. b. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife. 2. The act of marrying or the ceremony of being married; wedding. 3. A close union: a true marriage of minds. 4. The combination of the king and queen of the same suit, as in pinochle.