Saturday, March 17, 2007
How good is my marriage good for in Texas?
EXPIRATION OF LICENSE. If a marriage ceremony has not been conducted before the 31st day after the date the license is issued, the marriage license expires. PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT CEREMONY. (a) The following persons are authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony: (1) a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest; (2) a Jewish rabbi; (3) a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony; and (4) a justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of criminal appeals, justice of the courts of appeals, judge of the district, county, and probate courts, judge of the county courts at law, judge of the courts of domestic relations, judge of the juvenile courts, retired justice or judge of those courts, justice of the peace, retired justice of the peace, or judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state. (b) For the purposes of this section, a retired judge or justice is a former judge or justice who is vested in the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan One or the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan Two or who has an aggregate of at least 12 years of service as judge or justice of any type listed in Subsection (a)(4). (c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), a person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony without authorization under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor. (d) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony of a minor whose marriage is prohibited by law or of a person who by marrying commits an offense under Section 25.01, Penal Code. An offense under this subsection is a felony of the third degree. CEREMONY. (a) On receiving an unexpired marriage license, an authorized person may conduct the marriage ceremony as provided by this subchapter. (b) A person unable to appear for the ceremony may assent to marriage by the appearance of a proxy appointed in the affidavit authorized by Subchapter A. 72-HOUR WAITING PERIOD; EXCEPTIONS. (a) Except as provided by this section, a marriage ceremony may not take place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license. (b) The 72-hour waiting period after issuance of a marriage license does not apply to an applicant who: (1) is a member of the armed forces of the United States and on active duty; (2) is not a member of the armed forces of the United States but performs work for the United States Department of Defense as a department employee or under a contract with the department; or (3) obtains a written waiver under Subsection (c). (c) An applicant may request a judge of a court with jurisdiction in family law cases, a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a county judge, or a judge of a court of appeals for a written waiver permitting the marriage ceremony to take place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license. If the judge finds that there is good cause for the marriage to take place during the period, the judge shall sign the waiver. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a judge under this section has the authority to sign a waiver under this section. DISCRIMINATION IN CONDUCTING MARRIAGE PROHIBITED. (a) A person authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony by this subchapter is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, or national origin against an applicant who is otherwise competent to be married. (b) On a finding by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that a person has intentionally violated Subsection (a), the commission may recommend to the supreme court that the person be removed from office. RETURN OF LICENSE; PENALTY. (a) The person who conducts a marriage ceremony shall record on the license the date on which and the county in which the ceremony is performed and the person's name, subscribe the license, and return the license to the county clerk who issued it not later than the 30th day after the date the ceremony is conducted. (b) A person who fails to comply with this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500. MARRIAGE CONDUCTED AFTER LICENSE EXPIRED; PENALTY. (a) A person who is to conduct a marriage ceremony shall determine whether the license has expired from the county clerk's endorsement on the license. (b) A person who conducts a marriage ceremony after the marriage license has expired commits an offense. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500. RECORDING AND DELIVERY OF LICENSE. (a) The county clerk shall record a returned marriage license and mail the license to the address indicated on the application. (b) On the application form the county clerk shall record: (1) the date of the marriage ceremony; (2) the county in which the ceremony was conducted; and (3) the name of the person who conducted the ceremony. DUPLICATE LICENSE. (a) On the application and proof of identity of a person whose marriage is recorded in the records of the county clerk, the county clerk shall issue a duplicate marriage license completed with information as contained in the records. (b) On the application and proof of identity of both persons to whom a marriage license was issued but not recorded as required by Section 2.208, the county clerk shall issue a duplicate license if each person applying submits to the clerk an affidavit stating: (1) that the persons to whom the original license was issued were married to each other before the expiration date of the original license by a person authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony; (2) the name of the person who conducted the ceremony; and (3) the date of the ceremony.