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Four states in the United States allow proxy marriages:
A proxy marriage is a marriage where someone stands in for the other party. That is, either the bride or the groom is not physically present for the wedding. During the solemnization of the marriage, based upon a power of attorney, an agent acts on behalf of one of the parties.
A double-proxy marriage is a marriage where neither party is present. In the United States, the only state to allow a double-proxy marriage is Montana, though not all Montana counties will allow the proxy marriages.
Marriage by proxy has been around a long time. One of the more famous proxy marriages was in 1810, when Emperor Napoleon married Archduchess Marie Louise by proxy. During the early 1900's, proxy marriages increased significantly when many Japanese picture brides arrived in Angel Island. During war time, proxy marriages are more common.
The term today, though, is primarily connected to computer servers, annual stock meeting voting, and Munchausen Syndrome.
Where You Can Get Married By Proxy:
Most of the proxy marriage laws are limited to members of the armed forces who are deployed for conflicts or wars. Some have residency requirements.
Whether a state or country will recognize a marriage by proxy is a tricky question that seems to depend on whether or not the law of the locale requires that both parties be present to apply for a license or to give their consent at the ceremony. Some states recognize a proxy marriage that was done in another state. Other states only recognize them as common-law marriages. Iowa does not recognize proxy marriages.
Canada, proxy marriage is only recognized if the marriage was performed in a jurisdiction that allows proxy marriage.
U.S. military personnel may annul a proxy marriage provided there is no consummation, no cohabitation, or no treatment as husband and wife after the marriage ceremony.
Unconsummated proxy marriages are NOT recognized for immigration purposes in most countries, including the United States.
Marriages by proxy are not cheap and they are not readily available.
It is advisable that you contact an attorney before getting married by proxy to make sure your marriage will be considered valid.
Marriage by Proxy in Montana
(1) A marriage may be solemnized by a judge of a court of record, by a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages, by a mayor, city judge, or justice of the peace, by a tribal judge, or in accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious denomination, Indian nation or tribe, or native group. Either the person solemnizing the marriage or, if no individual acting alone solemnized the marriage, a party to the marriage shall complete the marriage certificate form and forward it to the clerk of the district court.
(2) If a party to a marriage is unable to be present at the solemnization, the party may authorize in writing a third person to act as proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is satisfied that the absent party is unable to be present and has consented to the marriage, the person may solemnize the marriage by proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is not satisfied, the parties may petition the district court for an order permitting the marriage to be solemnized by proxy.
(3) The solemnization of the marriage is not invalidated by the fact that the person solemnizing the marriage was not legally qualified to solemnize it if either party to the marriage believed that person to be qualified.
(4) One party to a proxy marriage must be a member of the armed forces of the United States on federal active duty or a resident of Montana at the time of application for a license and certificate pursuant to 40-1-202. One party or a legal representative shall appear before the clerk of court and pay the marriage license fee. For the purposes of this subsection, residency must be determined in accordance with 1-1-215.
Marriage by Proxy in Texas
2.006 ABSENT APPLICANT.
(a) If an applicant is unable to appear personally before the county clerk to apply for a marriage license, any adult person or the other applicant may apply on behalf of the absent applicant.
(b) The person applying on behalf of an absent applicant shall provide to the clerk:
(1) the affidavit of the absent applicant as provided by this subchapter;
(2) proof of the identity and age of the absent applicant as provided by this subchapter; and
(3) if required because the absent applicant is a person under 18 years of age, the documents establishing parental consent, documents establishing that a prior marriage has been dissolved, or a court order authorizing the marriage of the absent, underage applicant.
Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, § 1, eff. April 17, 1997.
2.007 AFFIDAVIT OF ABSENT APPLICANT.
The affidavit of an absent applicant must include:
(1) the absent applicant's full name, including the maiden surname of a female applicant, address, date of birth, place of birth, including city, county, and state, citizenship, and social security number, if any;
(2) a declaration that the absent applicant has not been divorced within the last 30 days;
(3) a declaration that the absent applicant is:
(A) not presently married; or
(B) married to the other applicant and they wish to marry agai(4) a declaration that the other applicant is not related to the absent applicant as:
(A) an ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption;
(B) a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(C) a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption; or
(D) a son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
5) a declaration that the absent applicant desires to marry and the name, age, and address of the person to whom the absent applicant desires to be married;
(6) the approximate date on which the marriage is to occur;
(7) the reason the absent applicant is unable to appear personally before the county clerk for the issuance of the license; and
(8) if the absent applicant will be unable to attend the ceremony, the appointment of any adult, other than the other applicant, to act as proxy for the purpose of participating in the ceremony.
Marriage by Proxy in California
SB 7 was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga and Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 10, 2004.
Because it was passed as an urgency measure, the law took effect immediately.
The law allows marriage-by-proxy in California for members of the armed forces who are stationed far away in wars or conflicts. It allows them to give their power of attorney for someone to stand in for them during their wedding ceremony.
Documents have to be signed and acknowledged by a notary or by two military officers.
Text of Law:
SECTION 1. Section 350 of the Family Code is amended to read: 350. (a) Before entering a marriage, or declaring a marriage pursuant to Section 425, the parties shall first obtain a marriage license from a county clerk.
(b) If a marriage is to be entered into pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 420, the attorney-in-fact shall appear before the county clerk on behalf of the party who is overseas, as prescribed in subdivision (a).
SEC. 2. Section 354 of the Family Code is amended to read:
354. (a) 354. (a) Each applicant for a marriage license shall be required to present authentic photo identification acceptable to the county clerk as to name and date of birth. A credible witness affidavit or affidavits may be used in lieu of authentic photo identification.
(b) For the purpose of ascertaining the facts mentioned or required in this part, if the clerk deems it necessary, the clerk may examine the applicants for a marriage license on oath at the time of the application. The clerk shall reduce the examination to writing and the applicants shall sign it.
(c) If necessary, the clerk may request additional documentary proof as to the accuracy of the facts stated.
(d) Applicants for a marriage license shall not be required to state, for any purpose, their race or color.
(e) If a marriage is to be entered into pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 420, the attorney-in-fact shall comply with the requirements of this section on behalf of the applicant who is overseas, if necessary.
SEC. 3. Section 355 of the Family Code is amended to read:
355. (a) The forms for the application for a marriage license and the marriage license shall be prescribed by the State Department of Health Services, and shall be adapted to set forth the facts required in this part.
(b) The form for the application for a marriage license shall include an affidavit on the back, which the applicants shall sign, affirming that they have received the brochure provided for in Section 358. If the marriage is to be entered into pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 420, the attorney-in-fact shall sign the affidavit on behalf of the applicant who is overseas.
(c) The affidavit required by subdivision (b) shall state:
I acknowledge that I have received the brochure titled___________
Signature of Bride
Signature of Groom
SEC. 4. Section 420 of the Family Code is amended to read:
420. (a) No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is stationed overseas and serving in a conflict or a war and is unable to appear for the licensure and solemnization of the marriage may enter into that marriage by the appearance of an attorney-in-fact, commissioned and empowered in writing for that purpose through a power of attorney. The attorney-in-fact must personally appear at the county clerk's office with the party who is not stationed overseas, and present the original power of attorney duly signed by the party stationed overseas and acknowledged by a notary or witnessed by two officers of the United States Armed Forces. Copies in any form, including by facsimile, are not acceptable. The power of attorney shall state the full given names at birth, or by court order, of the parties to be married, and that the power of attorney is solely for the purpose of authorizing the attorney in fact to obtain a marriage license on the person's behalf and participate in the solemnization of the marriage. The original power of attorney shall be a part of the marriage certificate upon registration.
(c) No contract of marriage, if otherwise duly made, shall be invalidated for want of conformity to the requirements of any religious sect.
SEC. 5. This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to ensure that members of the Armed Forces of the United States have the ability to legally marry in the State of California while stationed overseas, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.
Marriage by Proxy in Colorado
Marriage by proxy is allowed in Colorado only if either the groom or bride cannot appear due to illness, is out of the state of Colorado, or incarcerated.
In these case, the bride or groom can obtain an absentee application. It must be notarized. Identification for the absent party must be provided by the other soon to be spouse when applying for the license.
Text of Law:
14-2-109, Solemnization and registration.
(2) If a party to a marriage is unable to be present at the solemnization, such party may authorize in writing a third person to act as such party's proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is satisfied that the absent party is unable to be present and has consented to the marriage, such person may solemnize the marriage by proxy. If such person is not satisfied, the parties may petition the district court for an order permitting the marriage to be solemnized by proxy.