Solemnizing marriages & civil unions

Below is a summary of New Jersey law about officiating at marriages.  It is taken from the New Jersey Statutes website at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/

Note in particular Title 37, Chapter 1, Section 13, which entitles "every minister of every religion" to solemnize a marriage.

26:8-41 Transmission of marriage and civil union licenses and certificates.

Every person or religious society, institution or organization solemnizing a marriage or civil union shall, within 5 days thereafter, transmit the certificate of marriage or civil union and the marriage or civil union license to the local registrar of the registration district in which the marriage or civil union occurs or to the clerk of the county board of health.

The local registrar or clerk of the county board of health shall stamp every certificate of marriage or civil union so received with the date of its receipt and the name of the registration district in which it is filed.

Amended 1965, c.78, s.59; 2006, c.103, s.44.

26:8-47 Preparation of forms for marriage and civil union licenses, certificates.

The department shall cause to be prepared blank forms of certificates of marriages or civil unions and marriage or civil union licenses corresponding to the requirements of R.S.37:1-7 and R.S.37:1-17. The forms, together with such sections of the laws concerning marriages or civil unions and such instructions and explanations thereof as the department may deem useful to persons having duties to perform under such laws shall be printed and supplied upon request therefor to the local registrars and to the city clerks of cities of the first class.

All certificates of marriages or civil unions and marriage or civil union licenses shall be written upon the said blanks or blanks approved by the department and shall not contain any inquiries or information which concerns the race of an applicant for a marriage or civil union license.

Amended 1965, c.78, s.64; 2002, c.88, s.2; 2006, c.103, s.50.

 

37:1-1 Certain marriages or civil unions prohibited.

  1. A man shall not marry or enter into a civil union with any of his ancestors or descendants, or his sister or brother, or the daughter or son of his brother or sister, or the sister or brother of his father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood.
  2. A woman shall not marry or enter into a civil union with any of her ancestors or descendants, or her sister or brother, or the daughter or son of her brother or sister, or the sister or brother of her father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood.
  3. A marriage or civil union in violation of any of the foregoing provisions shall be absolutely void.

Amended 2006, c.103, s.6.

37:1-2. Necessity of license; "licensing officer" defined

Before a marriage can be lawfully performed in this state, the persons intending to be married shall obtain a marriage license from the licensing officer and deliver it to the person who is to officiate, but if the marriage is to be performed by or before any religious society, institution or organization, the license shall be delivered to such religious society, institution or organization, or any officer thereof.

As used in this chapter, "licensing officer" means, as to cities of the first class, the city clerk; as to other municipalities, the registrar of vital statistics; or the deputy of any said official designated by him to issue licenses during his absence.

37:1-3. Where license to be obtained

The licensing officer shall issue the license which shall be obtained:

a. In the municipality of this state in which the female party to the proposed marriage resides; or

b. In the municipality in which the male party resides, if the female party is a nonresident of this state; or

c. In the municipality in which the proposed marriage is to be performed, if both parties are nonresidents of this state.

37:1-4. Issuance of license, emergencies, validity

37:1-4. Except as provided in sections 37:1-5 and 37:1-6 of this Title, the license shall not be issued by a licensing officer sooner than 72 hours after the application therefor has been made; provided, however, that the Superior Court may, by order, waive all or any part of said 72-hour period in cases of emergency, upon satisfactory proof being shown to it. Said order shall be filed with the licensing officer and attached to the application for the license.

A license, when properly issued as provided in this article, shall be good and valid only for 30 days after the date of the issuance thereof.

Amended 1946,c.185,s.1; 1953,c.34,s.1; 1955,c.61; 1991,c.91,s.366.

37:1-5. Immediate marriage if arrested upon criminal charge

If a person is arrested upon a criminal charge, involving an accusation of bastardy, rape, fornication or of having had carnal knowledge of an unmarried female, and the accused person consents to marry such female, any licensing officer is authorized to immediately issue a marriage license irrespective of the provisions of sections 37:1-3 and 37:1-4 of this Title.

Amended by L.1946, c. 185, p. 772, s. 2.

37:1-7. Issuing of license; remarriage

The licensing officer is hereby empowered to issue marriage licenses to the contracting parties who apply therefor and are entitled under the laws of this State to contract matrimony, authorizing the marriage of such parties, which license shall be substantially in the following form:

"State of New Jersey. County of city, town or township of

This is to certify that any person, religious society, institution or organization authorized by law to perform marriage ceremonies within the State of New Jersey to whom this may come, he or they not knowing any lawful impediment thereto, is hereby authorized and empowered to solemnize the rites of matrimony between

A B of in the county of and State of and C D of , in the county of and State of , and to certify the same to be the said parties, or either of them, under his hand and seal in his ministerial or official capacity.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said town, township or city at this day of one thousand nine hundred and

, (Name and official title)"

If the contracting parties desire both a civil and a religious marriage ceremony, the licensing officer shall issue a license in duplicate, marking one as "issued for civil marriage ceremony" and one as "issued for religious marriage ceremony."

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the remarriage of a couple already married to each other; provided, a new license is obtained and the marriage properly reported. Such license shall be plainly marked "Issued for remarriage--originally married to same mate at (state place) on (state date)." Such a license shall be issued without compliance with the provisions of section 37:1-4 of the Revised Statutes and the provisions of "An act concerning marriages" approved May third, one thousand nine hundred and thirty-eight (P.L.1938, c. 126). When such marriage report is received by the State registrar he shall, if an original marriage certificate is recorded, make a notation thereon of the remarriage and its date and place.

Amended by L.1941, c. 354, p. 926, s. 1, eff. Aug. 4, 1941.

37:1-8. Testimony under oath by applicants as to legality of proposed marriage; witnesses; perjury

A licensing officer shall, before issuing a marriage license, require the contracting parties to appear before him and subscribe and swear to an oath attesting the truth of the facts respecting the legality of the proposed marriage as set forth in the form supplied by the State Bureau of Vital Statistics. Said testimony shall be verified by a witness of legal age. A licensing officer shall issue a license only if it is thus made to appear before him that no legal impediment to the marriage exists. Every licensing officer may administer oaths to the contracting parties and their identifying witness.

Any identifying witness or applicant applying for a marriage license who shall knowingly make false answers to any of the inquiries asked by the licensing officer shall be guilty of perjury.

Amended by L.1946, c. 185, p. 773, s. 4.

37:1-12. Fees; disposition in cities of first class

For issuing a marriage license, the licensing officer shall be entitled to receive from the applicants the sum of three dollars ($3.00). All fees so received by the city clerk in cities of the first class shall be paid into the treasury of such city to be used for the relief of its poor.

Amended by L.1948, c. 285, p. 1195, s. 3, eff. Aug. 9, 1948.

37:1-12.1. Additional fee

1. In addition to the fee for issuing a marriage license authorized pursuant to R.S.37:1-12, each licensing officer shall collect a fee of $25 from the applicants which shall be forwarded on a quarterly basis to the Department of Human Services.

L.1981,c.382,s.1; amended 1992,c.136,s.1.

37:1-12.2. Trust fund to aid victims of domestic violence

2. The Department of Human Services shall establish a trust fund for the deposit of the fees received pursuant to section 1 of this act. The moneys from the trust fund shall be used for the specific purpose of establishing and maintaining shelters for the victims of domestic violence, or a. for providing grants-in-aid to such shelters established by local governments or private nonprofit organizations; or b. for providing grants-in-aid to non-residential agencies whose primary purpose is to serve victims of domestic violence in those counties which do not have emergency residential shelters for victims; or c. for providing grants-in-aid to any nonprofit, Statewide coalition whose membership includes a majority of the programs for battered women in New Jersey and whose board membership includes a majority of representatives of these programs and whose purpose is to provide services, community education, and technical assistance to these programs to establish and maintain shelter and related services for victims of domestic violence and their children.

L.1981,c.382,s.2; amended 1992,c.136,s.2.

37:1-12.3. Rules and regulations

The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services shall adopt and promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary to implement this act.

L.1981, c. 382, s. 3.

37:1-13. Authorization to solemnize marriages

37:1-13. Each judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, each judge of a federal district court, United States magistrate, judge of a municipal court, judge of the Superior Court, judge of a tax court, retired judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court, or judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court who has resigned in good standing, surrogate of any county, county clerk and any mayor or the deputy mayor when authorized by the mayor, or chairman of any township committee or village president of this State, and every minister of every religion, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriage between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation; and every religious society, institution or organization in this State may join together in marriage such persons according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.

Amended 1948,c.334,s.1; 1949,c.7,s.1; 1953, c.34, s.3; 1964, c.68; 1965, c.36; 1976, c.36; 1979, c.38; 1979, c.93; 1979, c.166, s.1; 1983, c.159; 1983, c.503; 1989, c.111; 1991, c.404; 1993, c.126; 1993, c.324; 1998, c.24.

37:1-13.1. Marriages solemnized by municipal magistrate or magistrate of municipal court; validation

All marriages heretofore solemnized by any municipal magistrate or magistrate of the municipal court who was not at the time of such solemnization authorized to solemnize marriages shall, if otherwise valid, be as valid as if same had been solemnized by a person authorized to solemnize marriages.

L.1949, c. 7, p. 31, s. 2, eff. March 29, 1949.

37:1-13.2. Marriages solemnized by judge of court of record; validation

All marriages heretofore solemnized by any judge of a court of record in this State, who was not at the time of such solemnization authorized to solemnize marriages, if otherwise valid, shall be as valid as if the same had been solemnized by a person authorized to solemnize marriages.

L.1962, c. 93, s. 1, eff. June 25, 1962.

37:1-14. Certain marriages validated

All marriages performed prior to March twenty-seventh, one thousand nine hundred and twelve, by a minister of any religion other than a stated or ordained minister of the gospel, if otherwise valid, shall be as valid as if the same had been performed by a stated and ordained minister of the gospel.

37:1-15. Solemnizing without presentation of license; misdemeanor

Any person, not authorized by section 37:1-13 of the Revised Statutes to solemnize marriages, who solemnizes a marriage or any person or religious society, institution or organization, authorized to solemnize marriages, who solemnizes a marriage without the presentation of a license therefor, obtained in accordance with the provisions of article two of this chapter (s. 37:1-2 et seq.), shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00), or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

Amended by L.1948, c. 127, p. 848, s. 1, eff. June 12, 1948.

37:1-16. Interrogation of applicants under oath; perjury

Any person authorized to solemnize marriages may administer oaths to the parties applying to be married, and may require them, or either of them, to make true answers to any inquiries made by him in order to ascertain whether, in his judgment, any legal impediment to the proposed marriage exists.

Any person who willfully makes false answers to any such inquiries shall, if the answers are reduced to writing, signed by the party making the same and attached to the certificate of marriage, be deemed guilty of perjury.

37:1-17 Marriage license; information provided.

37:1-17. On the marriage license shall be the form for the certificate of marriage in quadruplicate, to which the licensing officer shall have set forth particularly therein the name, age, parentage, race, birthplace, residence, Social Security number and condition (whether single, widowed or divorced) of each of the married persons, and the names and county of birth of their parents. The Social Security number shall be kept confidential and may only be released for child support enforcement purposes, and shall not be considered a public record pursuant to P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.). The person by whom or the religious society, institution, or organization by or before which, the marriage was solemnized, shall personally or by legally authorized agent subscribe where indicated on the form the date and place of the marriage. Each certificate of marriage shall also contain the signature and residence of at least two witnesses who were present at the marriage ceremony.

Amended 1980, c.128, s.1; 1998, c.1, s.45.

37:1-17.1. License and certificate of marriage; transmittal

The license and the original certificate shall be transmitted pursuant to R.S. 26:8-41. One copy of the certificate shall be retained by the local registrar and one copy shall be given to the persons contracting the marriage. The remaining copy shall be retained by the person solemnizing the marriage.

L.1980, c. 128, s. 2, eff. Jan. 1, 1981.

37:1-17.2. Delayed reports; filing; contents; affidavits; evidence

Any marriage which has occurred or which may hereafter occur and which is not recorded with the State Registrar as required by this chapter, may be recorded by filing a delayed report with the State Registrar, documented by a copy of the application for the license. The delayed report shall contain an affidavit of the person performing the marriage or if he is deceased or not available, of one or both witnesses to the marriage ceremony confirming that the ceremony was performed and the date and place of the marriage.

When it is impossible to secure the affidavit of the officiant or either of the witnesses, the affidavit may be made by a person who was present at the marriage ceremony, or the contracting parties, provided additional documentary evidence is presented.

The State Registrar may require evidence of the correctness of the information in a delayed report and may refuse to accept a delayed report if the evidence is not submitted.

L.1980, c. 128, s. 3, eff. Jan. 1, 1981.

37:1-18. Penalty for false certificate

Any person, religious society, institution or organization authorized to solemnize marriages, who makes any false certificate of marriage, shall be liable to a penalty of one hundred dollars.

37:1-19. Penalty; how recovered

Any penalty incurred under any of the provisions of this article may be recovered with costs, in an action at law by and in the name of the local board of health of the municipality where the marriage occurred, or by and in the name of the state department of health.

 

The information above was taken from the New Jersey Statutes Database in 2006 and is assembled as a service to Ministers of the Universal Life Church.  Persons solemnizing marriages must make their own decisions whether this law applies to them.  This page is not intended to provide legal advice.