Galef Announces Legislation to Extend Marriage License Deadline, Assisting Those Serving in the Military

April 21, 2004

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef has introduced legislation (A.9871) increasing the validity of marriage licenses from 60 days after issue to 180 days after issue. The new legislation was inspired by a problem some of Assemblywoman Galef’s constituents encountered.

Galef said "This past year, one of my constituents was called to military duty in December. He and his fiancée had planned a May wedding. It turned out that he could not return until the day before the wedding. Unfortunately, under current Domestic Relations Law, marriage licenses are good only for sixty days. Therefore, the engaged couple was unable to procure their license before my constituent left for his overseas assignment. Moreover, his return date did not allow them to get the Town Offices 24 hours before the wedding. I was unable to help this couple, and it turned out that they were forced to change their plans."

"By tripling the amount of time before a marriage license expires, we are making it easier for couples with one or both partners called to military duty to keep their wedding plans intact. Those serving in our armed forces already make many sacrifices for our country, but being able to have a wedding when and how they choose should not be one of them," said Assemblywoman Galef.

The sixty-day requirement in the Domestic Relations Law was originally instituted in the 1930’s to fight syphilis. Public health officials now agree that testing engaged couples is no longer a valuable tool for fighting sexually transmitted disease. Extending the time that a license is still valid poses no risk to public health. The bill maintains the 24-hour buffer period between receipt of the license and formalization of the marriage, which acts to stop ‘hasty’ weddings.