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Table of Sections

2013 Minnesota Statutes

Chapter 517. Civil Marriage

Chapter Sections
Section Headnote
517.0001MS 2006 Renumbered 15.001
517.001Definition
517.01Civil Marriage Contract
517.02Persons Capable of Contracting
517.03Prohibited Civil Marriages
517.04Persons Authorized to Perform Civil Marriages
517.041Power to Appoint Court Commissioner; Duty
517.05Credentials of Minister
517.06Parties Examined
517.07License
517.071Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17
517.08Application for License
517.09Solemnization
517.10Certificate; Witnesses
517.101Certified Copies of Civil Marriage Certificate
517.11Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5
517.12Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5
517.13Penalty for Failure to File Certificate
517.14Illegal Civil Marriage; False Certificate; Penalty
517.15Unauthorized Person Performing Ceremony
517.16Immaterial Irregularity of Officiating Person Does Not Void
517.17Repealed, 1978 c 772 s 63
517.18Civil Marriage Solemnization
517.19Repealed, 1980 c 589 s 38
517.20Application
517.201Relationship to Other Law; Rules of Construction
517.21American Family Day
517.23Meaning of Civil Marriage
517.0001 MS 2006 [Renumbered 15.001]

517.001 DEFINITION.

As used in this chapter, "local registrar" means an individual designated by the county board of commissioners to register civil marriages.

517.01 CIVIL MARRIAGE CONTRACT.

A civil marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between two persons, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential. A lawful civil marriage may be contracted only when a license has been obtained as provided by law and when the civil marriage is contracted in the presence of two witnesses and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, so to do. Marriages subsequent to April 26, 1941, not so contracted shall be null and void.

517.02 PERSONS CAPABLE OF CONTRACTING.

Every person who has attained the full age of 18 years is capable in law of contracting into a civil marriage, if otherwise competent. A person of the full age of 16 years may, with the consent of the person's legal custodial parents, guardian, or the court, as provided in section 517.08, receive a license to marry, when, after a careful inquiry into the facts and the surrounding circumstances, the person's application for a license and consent for civil marriage of a minor form is approved by the judge of the district court of the county in which the person resides. If the judge of the district court of the county in which the person resides is absent from the county and has not by order assigned another judge or a retired judge to act in the judge's stead, then the court commissioner or any judge of district court of the county may approve the application for a license.

The consent for civil marriage of a minor must be in the following form:

STATE OF MINNESOTA, COUNTY OF .................... (insert county name)

I/We ........................... (insert legal custodial parent or guardian names) under oath or affirmation say:

That I/we are the legal custodial parent(s) or guardian of ........................... (insert name of minor), who was born at ........................... (insert place of birth) on ........................... (insert date of birth) who is presently the age of ....... (insert age).

That the minor has not been previously married.

That I/we consent to the civil marriage of this minor to ........................... (insert name of the person minor intends to marry) who is of the age of ....... (insert age).

That affidavit is being made for the purpose of requesting the judge's consent to allow this minor to marry and make this civil marriage legal.

Date: .............................

.....................................................................................................

.....................................................................................................

(Signature of legal custodial parents or guardian)

Sworn to or affirmed and acknowledged before me on this ....... day of .................... .

..........................................

NOTARY PUBLIC

STATE OF MINNESOTA, COUNTY OF .................... (insert county name).

The undersigned is the judge of the district court where the minor resides and grants the request for the minor to marry.

................................ (judge of district court)

................................ (date).

517.03 PROHIBITED CIVIL MARRIAGES.

Subdivision 1.General.

The following civil marriages are prohibited:

(1) a civil marriage entered into before the dissolution of an earlier civil marriage of one of the parties becomes final, as provided in section 518.145 or by the law of the jurisdiction where the dissolution was granted;

(2) a civil marriage between an ancestor and a descendant, or between siblings, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption; and

(3) a civil marriage between an uncle or aunt and a niece or nephew, or between first cousins, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, except as to civil marriages permitted by the established customs of aboriginal cultures.

Subd. 2.Developmentally disabled persons; consent by commissioner of human services.

Developmentally disabled persons committed to the guardianship of the commissioner of human services and developmentally disabled persons committed to the conservatorship of the commissioner of human services in which the terms of the conservatorship limit the right to marry, may marry on receipt of written consent of the commissioner. The commissioner shall grant consent unless it appears from the commissioner's investigation that the civil marriage is not in the best interest of the ward or conservatee and the public. The local registrar in the county where the application for a license is made by the ward or conservatee shall not issue the license unless the local registrar has received a signed copy of the consent of the commissioner of human services.

517.04 PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM CIVIL MARRIAGES.

Civil marriages may be solemnized throughout the state by an individual who has attained the age of 21 years and is a judge of a court of record, a retired judge of a court of record, a court administrator, a retired court administrator with the approval of the chief judge of the judicial district, a former court commissioner who is employed by the court system or is acting pursuant to an order of the chief judge of the commissioner's judicial district, the residential school administrators of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, a licensed or ordained minister of any religious denomination, or by any mode recognized in section 517.18. For purposes of this section, a court of record includes the Office of Administrative Hearings under section 14.48.

517.041 POWER TO APPOINT COURT COMMISSIONER; DUTY.

The Third Judicial District may appoint as court commissioner for Fillmore and Olmsted Counties respectively a person who was formerly employed by those counties as a court commissioner.

The sole duty of an appointed court commissioner is to solemnize civil marriages.

517.05 CREDENTIALS OF MINISTER.

Ministers of any religious denomination, before they are authorized to solemnize a civil marriage, shall file a copy of their credentials of license or ordination or, if their religious denomination does not issue credentials, authority from the minister's spiritual assembly, with the local registrar of a county in this state, who shall record the same and give a certificate of filing thereof. The place where the credentials are recorded shall be endorsed upon and recorded with each certificate of civil marriage granted by a minister.

517.06 PARTIES EXAMINED.

Every person authorized by law to perform the civil marriage ceremony, before solemnizing a civil marriage, may examine the parties on oath, which oath the person is authorized to administer, as to the legality of the intended civil marriage. No person shall solemnize a civil marriage unless satisfied that there is no legal impediment to it, that a civil marriage license has been obtained, and that the individuals present are the persons named in the license.

517.07 LICENSE.

Before any persons are joined in civil marriage in Minnesota, a license shall be obtained from the local registrar of any county within Minnesota. The civil marriage need not take place in the county where the license is obtained but must take place within the geographical borders of Minnesota.

517.071 [Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17]

517.08 APPLICATION FOR LICENSE.

Subdivision 1.

[Renumbered subds 1a and 1b]

Subd. 1a.Form.

Application for a civil marriage license shall be made by both of the parties upon a form provided for the purpose and shall contain the following information:

(1) the full names of the parties and the sex of each party;

(2) their post office addresses and county and state of residence;

(3) their full ages;

(4) if either party has previously been married, the party's married name, and the date, place and court in which the civil marriage was dissolved or annulled or the date and place of death of the former spouse;

(5) if either party is a minor, the name and address of the minor's parents or guardian;

(6) whether the parties are related to each other, and, if so, their relationship;

(7) the address of the parties after the civil marriage is entered into to which the local registrar shall send a certified copy of the civil marriage certificate;

(8) the full names the parties will have after the civil marriage is entered into and the parties' Social Security numbers. The Social Security numbers must be collected for the application but must not appear on the civil marriage license. If a party listed on a civil marriage application does not have a Social Security number, the party must certify on the application, or a supplement to the application, that the party does not have a Social Security number;

(9) if one or both of the parties to the civil marriage license has a felony conviction under Minnesota law or the law of another state or federal jurisdiction, the parties shall provide to the county proof of service upon the prosecuting authority and, if applicable, the attorney general, as required by section 259.13; and

(10) notice that a party who has a felony conviction under Minnesota law or the law of another state or federal jurisdiction may not use a different name after a civil marriage except as authorized by section 259.13, and that doing so is a gross misdemeanor.

Subd. 1b.Term of license; fee; premarital education.

(a) The local registrar shall examine upon oath the parties applying for a license relative to the legality of the contemplated civil marriage. If one party is unable to appear in person, the party appearing may complete the absent applicant's information. The local registrar shall provide a copy of the civil marriage application to the party who is unable to appear, who must verify the accuracy of the appearing party's information in a notarized statement. The civil marriage license must not be released until the verification statement has been received by the local registrar. If at the expiration of a five-day period, on being satisfied that there is no legal impediment to it, including the restriction contained in section 259.13, the local registrar shall issue the license, containing the full names of the parties before and after the civil marriage, and county and state of residence, with the county seal attached, and make a record of the date of issuance. The license shall be valid for a period of six months. Except as provided in paragraph (c), the local registrar shall collect from the applicant a fee of $115 for administering the oath, issuing, recording, and filing all papers required, and preparing and transmitting to the state registrar of vital statistics the reports of civil marriage required by this section. If the license should not be used within the period of six months due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, it may be surrendered to the local registrar for cancellation, and in that case a new license shall issue upon request of the parties of the original license without fee. A local registrar who knowingly issues or signs a civil marriage license in any manner other than as provided in this section shall pay to the parties aggrieved an amount not to exceed $1,000.

(b) In case of emergency or extraordinary circumstances, a judge of the district court of the county in which the application is made may authorize the license to be issued at any time before expiration of the five-day period required under paragraph (a). A waiver of the five-day waiting period must be in the following form:

STATE OF MINNESOTA, COUNTY OF .................... (insert county name)

APPLICATION FOR WAIVER OF CIVIL MARRIAGE LICENSE WAITING PERIOD:

................................................................................. (legal names of the applicants)

Represent and state as follows:

That on ......................... (date of application) the applicants applied to the local registrar of the above-named county for a license to marry.

That it is necessary that the license be issued before the expiration of five days from the date of the application by reason of the following: (insert reason for requesting waiver of waiting period)

.............................................................................................................

.............................................................................................................

.............................................................................................................

WHEREAS, the applicants request that the judge waive the required five-day waiting period and the local registrar be authorized and directed to issue the civil marriage license immediately.

Date: .............................

.......................................................................................

.......................................................................................

(Signatures of applicants)

Acknowledged before me on this ....... day of .................... .

..........................................

NOTARY PUBLIC

COURT ORDER AND AUTHORIZATION:

STATE OF MINNESOTA, COUNTY OF .................... (insert county name)

After reviewing the above application, I am satisfied that an emergency or extraordinary circumstance exists that justifies the issuance of the civil marriage license before the expiration of five days from the date of the application. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the local registrar is authorized and directed to issue the license forthwith.

.....................................................

................................ (judge of district court)

................................ (date).

(c) The civil marriage license fee for parties who have completed at least 12 hours of premarital education is $40. In order to qualify for the reduced license fee, the parties must submit at the time of applying for the civil marriage license a statement that is signed, dated, and notarized or marked with a church seal from the person who provided the premarital education on their letterhead confirming that it was received. The premarital education must be provided by a licensed or ordained minister or the minister's designee, a person authorized to solemnize civil marriages under section 517.18, or a person authorized to practice marriage and family therapy under section 148B.33. The education must include the use of a premarital inventory and the teaching of communication and conflict management skills.

(d) The statement from the person who provided the premarital education under paragraph (c) must be in the following form:

"I, .......................... (name of educator), confirm that .......................... (names of both parties) received at least 12 hours of premarital education that included the use of a premarital inventory and the teaching of communication and conflict management skills. I am a licensed or ordained minister, a person authorized to solemnize civil marriages under Minnesota Statutes, section 517.18, or a person licensed to practice marriage and family therapy under Minnesota Statutes, section 148B.33."

The names of the parties in the educator's statement must be identical to the legal names of the parties as they appear in the civil marriage license application. Notwithstanding section 138.17, the educator's statement must be retained for seven years, after which time it may be destroyed.

(e) If section 259.13 applies to the request for a civil marriage license, the local registrar shall grant the civil marriage license without the requested name change. Alternatively, the local registrar may delay the granting of the civil marriage license until the party with the conviction:

(1) certifies under oath that 30 days have passed since service of the notice for a name change upon the prosecuting authority and, if applicable, the attorney general and no objection has been filed under section 259.13; or

(2) provides a certified copy of the court order granting it. The parties seeking the civil marriage license shall have the right to choose to have the license granted without the name change or to delay its granting pending further action on the name change request.

Subd. 1c.Disposition of license fee.

(a) Of the civil marriage license fee collected pursuant to subdivision 1b, paragraph (a), $25 must be retained by the county. The local registrar must pay $90 to the commissioner of management and budget to be deposited as follows:

(1) $55 in the general fund;

(2) $3 in the state government special revenue fund to be appropriated to the commissioner of public safety for parenting time centers under section 119A.37;

(3) $2 in the special revenue fund to be appropriated to the commissioner of health for developing and implementing the MN ENABL program under section 145.9255;

(4) $25 in the special revenue fund is appropriated to the commissioner of employment and economic development for the displaced homemaker program under section 116L.96; and

(5) $5 in the special revenue fund, which is appropriated to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for the Minnesota couples on the brink project under section 137.32.

(b) Of the $40 fee under subdivision 1b, paragraph (b), $25 must be retained by the county. The local registrar must pay $15 to the commissioner of management and budget to be deposited as follows:

(1) $5 as provided in paragraph (a), clauses (2) and (3); and

(2) $10 in the special revenue fund is appropriated to the commissioner of employment and economic development for the displaced homemaker program under section 116L.96.

Subd. 2.

[Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17]

Subd. 3.

[Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17]

Subd. 4.Report.

The local registrar of each county shall annually report to the Department of Health the number of civil marriage licenses issued in the county for which the fee in subdivision 1b, paragraph (a), was paid and the number for which the fee in subdivision 1b, paragraph (b), was paid.

517.09 SOLEMNIZATION.

Subdivision 1.General.

No particular form is required to solemnize a civil marriage, except: the parties shall declare in the presence of a person authorized to solemnize civil marriages and two attending witnesses that each takes the other as husband, wife, or spouse; or the civil marriage shall be solemnized in a manner provided by section 517.18.

Subd. 2.Refusal to solemnize; protection of religious doctrine.

Each religious organization, association, or society has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, policy, teachings, and beliefs regarding who may marry within that faith. A licensed or ordained member of the clergy or other person authorized by section 517.04 to solemnize a civil marriage is not subject to any fine, penalty, or civil liability for failing or refusing to solemnize a civil marriage for any reason.

Subd. 3.Refusal to participate or support solemnization; protection of religious belief.

(a) Except for secular business activities engaged in by a religious association, religious corporation, or religious society, the conduct of which is unrelated to the religious and educational purposes for which it is organized, no religious association, religious corporation, or religious society shall be required to provide goods or services at the solemnization or celebration of any civil marriage or be subject to civil liability or any action by the state that penalizes, fines, or withholds any benefit to the religious association, religious corporation, or religious society under the laws of this state, including, but not limited to, laws regarding tax exempt status, for failing or refusing to provide goods or services at the solemnization or celebration of any civil marriage, if providing such goods or services would cause the religious association, religious corporation, or religious society to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

(b) The exception in paragraph (a) applies to employees, agents, and volunteers acting within the capacity of their employment or responsibilities with a religious association, religious corporation, or religious society.

517.10 CERTIFICATE; WITNESSES.

The person solemnizing a civil marriage shall prepare and sign a certificate. The certificate shall contain the full names of the parties before and after the civil marriage, the birth dates of the parties, and county and state of residences of the parties and the date and place of the civil marriage. The certificate shall also contain the signatures of at least two of the witnesses present at the civil marriage who shall be at least 16 years of age. The person solemnizing the civil marriage shall immediately make a record of such civil marriage, and file such certificate with the local registrar of the county in which the license was issued within five days after the ceremony. The local registrar shall record such certificate in the county civil marriage records.

517.101 CERTIFIED COPIES OF CIVIL MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.

Within ten days of receipt of the certificate and after recording the certificate the local registrar shall prepare a certified copy of the certificate to be mailed to the married parties.

517.11 [Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5]
517.12 [Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5]

517.13 PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO FILE CERTIFICATE.

Every person solemnizing a civil marriage who neglects to file a certificate with the local registrar within the time set forth in section 517.10 shall forfeit a sum not exceeding $100, and every local registrar who neglects to record a certificate shall forfeit a like sum.

517.14 ILLEGAL CIVIL MARRIAGE; FALSE CERTIFICATE; PENALTY.

A person authorized by law to solemnize civil marriages who knowingly solemnizes a civil marriage contrary to the provisions of this chapter, or knowing of any legal impediment to the proposed civil marriage, or who willfully makes a false certificate of any civil marriage or pretended civil marriage is guilty of a misdemeanor.

517.15 UNAUTHORIZED PERSON PERFORMING CEREMONY.

A person who knowingly undertakes to solemnize a civil marriage, without lawful authority to do so, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

History:

(8576) RL s 3565; 1978 c 772 s 12; 1986 c 444; 2013 c 74 s 9

517.16 IMMATERIAL IRREGULARITY OF OFFICIATING PERSON DOES NOT VOID.

A civil marriage solemnized before a person professing to be lawfully authorized to do so shall not be adjudged to be void, nor shall its validity be in any way affected, on account of a want of jurisdiction or authority in the supposed officer or person, if the civil marriage is consummated with the full belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been lawfully joined in civil marriage.

517.17 [Repealed, 1978 c 772 s 63]

517.18 CIVIL MARRIAGE SOLEMNIZATION.

Subdivision 1.Friends or Quakers.

All civil marriages solemnized among the people called Friends or Quakers, in the form heretofore practiced and in use in their meetings, shall be valid and not affected by any of the foregoing provisions. The clerk of the meeting in which such civil marriage is solemnized, within one month after any such civil marriage, shall deliver a certificate of the same to the local registrar of the county where the civil marriage took place, under penalty of not more than $100. Such certificate shall be filed and recorded by the court administrator under a like penalty. If such civil marriage does not take place in such meeting, such certificate shall be signed by the parties and at least six witnesses present, and shall be filed and recorded as above provided under a like penalty.

Subd. 2.Baha'i.

Civil marriages may be solemnized among members of the Baha'i faith by the chair of an incorporated local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, according to the form and usage of such society.

Subd. 3.Hindus; Muslims.

Civil marriages may be solemnized among Hindus or Muslims by the person chosen by a local Hindu or Muslim association, according to the form and usage of their respective religions.

Subd. 4.American Indians.

Civil marriages may be solemnized among American Indians according to the form and usage of their religion by an Indian Mide' or holy person chosen by the parties to the civil marriage.

Subd. 5.Construction of section.

Nothing in subdivisions 2 to 4 shall be construed to alter the requirements of section 517.01, 517.09 or 517.10.

517.19 [Repealed, 1980 c 589 s 38]

517.20 APPLICATION.

Except as provided in section 517.03, subdivision 1, paragraph (b), all marriages contracted within this state prior to March 1, 1979 or outside this state that were valid at the time of the contract or subsequently validated by the laws of the place in which they were contracted or by the domicile of the parties are valid in this state.

517.201 RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAW; RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

Subdivision 1.Religious freedom; Human Rights Act.

(a) This chapter does not alter or affect the protections or exemptions provided in chapter 363A for a religious association, educational institution, business, labor organization, place of public accommodation, employer, or other person.

(b) This chapter must not be construed to affect the manner in which a religious association, religious corporation, or religious society that is not organized for private profit, or an institution organized for educational purposes that is operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious association, religious corporation, or religious society that is not organized for private profit, provides adoption, foster care, or social services, if that association, corporation, society, or educational institution does not receive public funds for that specific program or purpose.

Subd. 2.Rules of construction.

When necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses or parents in a civil marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of this state, including those that establish parentage presumptions based on a civil marriage, gender-specific terminology, such as "husband," "wife," "mother," "father," "widow," "widower," or similar terms, must be construed in a neutral manner to refer to a person of either gender.

History:

2013 c 74 s 6

517.21 AMERICAN FAMILY DAY.

The first Sunday in August is designated American Family Day.

History:

1981 c 111 s 1

517.23 MEANING OF CIVIL MARRIAGE.

Wherever the term "marriage," "marital," "marry," or "married" is used in Minnesota statute in reference to the rights, obligations, or privileges of a couple under law, the term includes civil marriage, or individuals subject to civil marriage, as established by this chapter. A term subject to this definition must also be interpreted in reference to the context in which it appears, but may not be interpreted to limit or exclude any individual who has entered into a valid civil marriage contract under this chapter.

History:

2013 c 74 s 7

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