Articles Tagged with marriage license

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On November 30, 2012 we blogged about the Attorney General’s Opinion on the issuance of same sex marriage licenses and when the clerks could issue same. It appears that the clerks have followed the guidance of his Opinion as the first licenses were issued Thursday, December 6, 2012 as reported by the Baltimore Sun. Although the couples will not be able to wed until January 1, 2013, the Clerks of most Courts around the State have issued the licenses as of Thursday. As reported, Harford County and Prince Georges County are still working out some logistics, but will soon offer the licenses to same sex couples as well. While January 1, 2013, is a holiday and most courthouses would normally be closed, some are now considering opening to allow the couples to wed on their first available day to do so.
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As we explained in our “How to Get Married Guide for Same Sex Couples” blog on November 8, 2012, same sex couples will be permitted to marry in Maryland as of January 1, 2013. However, couples will need to obtain a marriage license from the court prior to doing so, and will have to wait 48 hours before they can act on the license. So the question becomes, when will same-sex couples be eligible to obtain the license, given that January 1 is a court holiday. The Attorney General, Doug Gansler released on 19 page opinion on Thursday, November 29, 2012 as reported by WJZ. Attorney Gansler states that the “court clerks may begin issuing marriage licenses after the law is formally proclaimed to have been approved by the voters” on December 6, 2012. However, Attorney Gansler cautions that the clerk could choose not to issue the licenses until January 2, 2013.
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As we have previously stated the new same sex marriage law will not only allow those in same sex relationship to now marry, but also to divorce, and will affect many other areas of family law. While those in same sex relationships may have been able to obtain a protective order previously, there may be some changes to the process for them.

A protective order can be awarded to only specified individuals, termed “persons eligible for relief.” To be a person eligible for relief one must be: the current or former spouse of the respondent; a cohabitant of the respondent; a relative of the respondent by blood, marriage or adoption; or a parent, stepparent, child or stepchild of the respondent or the person eligible for relief who resides or resided with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within 1 year before the filing of the petition Maryland Code, Family Law 4-501. While the same-sex couples did qualify under the cohabitant category previously, they, along with all others alleging to be cohabitants, had to prove they both had a sexual relationship with the respondent and resided in the same home for at least 90 days within one year of filing the petition. This may have required same sex couples to admit to sodomy, which remains a crime in Maryland. Now, those same sex couples who are married will fall under the current or former spouse category and will no longer have to prove the sexual relationship.

There are three potential stages to obtaining a protective order. First, is the Interim Protective Order, which allows for domestic violence protective orders to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. District Court Commissioners are available at any hour of the day and can issue an interim protective order if there is “reasonable grounds to believe” that the alleged abuser (the Respondent) has abused the person eligible for relief. This protective order lasts for up to 48 hours after the courts re-open, after which the individual seeking protection (the Petitioner) must seek a temporary protective order to extend the interim order.
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Effective January 1, 2013 same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in the State of Maryland. So how do they go about doing so? Find our step by step guide below:

1. Prior to obtaining a marriage certificate or making plans for a wedding, consider whether you and your partner will enter into a pre-nuptial agreement. If so, consult with an attorney. Maryland divorce and custody laws may apply if you get divorced, so it is important to know if you have pre-marital or other assets you want/need to protect in the event of divorce.

2. If you have children, consult with an attorney about how your marriage may or may not effect the custody of your child(ren) if you divorce.

3. You need to obtain a marriage license from the Circuit Court in the county in which you plan to get married.

4. You will need to bring identifying information with you to obtain the license and while only one of you will need to be present to obtain the license, you will need the following information for each applicant:

-Name – Age – Birth Date – State or Country of Birth – Current Address – Social Security Number
5. If either you or your partner has been previously divorced or widowed you will need the exact date of death or dissolution and in some counties you may need proof of same. Again, check with the courthouse of the county in which you will be married.

6. You will need to pay to obtain the license. This varies by county so check prior to visiting the courthouse, but it will range between $35.00 to $60.00. Make sure to verify what forms of payment are accepted.

7. You will not be able to get married for 48 hours after you obtain the license and you must get married within 6 months of obtaining the license.

8. You can use the certificate to be married in a civil or religious ceremony of your choosing.

9. Get married!
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As the Baltimore Sun reports, and most of Maryland has heard, Maryland voters made history on Election Day as they voted to make same-sex marriage legal in our State. As we discussed in our February 24, 2012 blog the Maryland Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act legalizing same-sex marriage in February 2012, but we knew that the decision would ultimately be up to the voters. After months of campaigning, fundraising and controversy over the law, the voters have spoken. Maryland has joined six other states and Washington D.C. in allowing same-sex marriage and is one of only two States to pass same-sex legislation by the popular vote.

As of January 1, 2013, same-sex couples will be permitted to obtain a marriage license from the Court, just as a heterosexual couple would. As of now the current law defining a legal marriage in Maryland, found at Maryland Code Family Law, § 2-201 states “[o]nly a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this State.” As of January 1, 2013 the statute will read “[o]nly a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in this State.”

We have previously blogged about the issues that surround the recognition of same-sex marriages in Maryland, specifically the Attorney General’s support of recognizing same sex marriages created validly in other states and Maryland lawmakers attempt to block gay marriages. Most recently we discussed the Court of Appeals recently heard arguments on the denial of a same sex divorce in Prince George’s County. The Court of Appeals issued its decision in May 2012 holding “[a] valid out-of-state same-sex marriage should be treated by Maryland courts as worthy of divorce, according to the applicable statues, reported cases, and court rules of this state.”
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The Maryland Court of Appeals will hear an appeal on a denied same sex divorce next month according to the Baltimore Sun’s March 17, 2012 report. The couple, who was married in San Francisco in 2008, were married for two years before one filed for divorce in Maryland. Their uncontested divorce was denied by the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Judge Chapdelaine of the Court denied the divorce because he found the parties California marriage was not valid in Maryland and therefore they can not divorce in Maryland. We had previously blogged on this issue as the Courts are in limbo with the legislation being passed, but not yet in effect and in light of the Attorney General’s February 2010 opinion that Maryland should recognize same sex marriages in other states as valid in Maryland. The Sun reports that few counties have granted same sex divorces, including Baltimore City, Calvert County and Prince Georges County, in another instance. As it stands it is the Judge’s call, which is why this future ruling by Maryland’s highest Court is crucial. If the Maryland Court of Appeals upholds Judge Chapdelaine’s ruling those same sex divorces that have been granted could be then potentially nullified.
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As the Baltimore Sun reports, Thursday night, February 23, 2012, the Maryland Senate passed Govern Martin O’Malleys’ bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. We blogged on June 28, 2011 that New York had passed the law allowing same sex couples to wed, making it the 6th state to do so. Maryland is now the 8th state to approve same sex marriages. While it is a victory for supporters of the bill, many believe that the law will likely be up to the voters in November. If the law is passed by the voters, it will be effective in January 2013.

As expected the church has voiced their disapproval of the bill’s passing. The Maryland Daily Record reports that Baltimore’s Cardinal O’Brien states that the bill “threatens families.” He has pledged that the Baltimore Archdiocese will work to overturn the law and likely will be a key proponent in making sure the voters have a say in November.

We discussed the potential of this bill passing last February and discussed the changes we may see in the area of family law as a result of the law. As stated in the blog, the law will affect custody and visitation law, as now same-sex couples who marry and adopt a child will both be the legal parents of the child; pre-nuptial agreements; and same sex divorces.
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On June 24, 2011 New York passed the law allowing same sex couples to wed in their state. New York is the sixth state to allow same-sex couples to wed, following Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. Like the bill that was proposed, but failed, earlier in Maryland this year, the law in New York will call for religious exemptions, meaning that there will be strong protections in place for religious groups that oppose gay marriages. New York does not have a residency requirement for marriage, so commencing July 24, 2011 it is predicted the state will see a lot of same sex couple weddings.

 

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740

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As we had previously reported in our March 1, 2010 blog the Maryland Attorney General issued an opinion in February 2010 that states Maryland should recognize same sex marriages performed legally in other states as valid marriages in Maryland. However, the bill to allow same sex couples to marry in Maryland did not pass in the legislature this term. This has left Maryland Courts in limbo with how to handle same sex couples who file for divorce. Local news station, WTOP, reported on Friday, June 24, 2011 that a local Prince Georges County same sex couple was recently denied a divorce based on “the unnatural circumstances of their marriage.” The Judge specifically stated in his opinion “to recognize the alleged marriage would be contrary to the public policy of Maryland.” The Prince Georges County couple has filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

As reported there have been three instances in Maryland where a same sex couple has filed for the divorce, and only one in Anne Arundel County has been granted. This leaves same sex couples with the options of filing in Maryland with an unknown outcome, moving to another state that recognizes same sex marriages to establish residency and file, or staying married. Attorneys and same sex couples will await the Court of Special Appeals ruling on the Prince George’s County case for guidance on the subject.
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The legislation pending to allow same-sex couples to marry is scheduled for a final vote this Friday, March 11, 2011 in the Maryland House of Delegates as reported by the Baltimore Sun. The legislation has already passed the Maryland Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. The passage of the bill, if signed by the Governor, would allow same-sex couples to marry in the State of Maryland. The passage of this bill would not afford same-sex couples who chose to marry more rights than those of their heterosexual counterparts. The bill would solely extend the civil protections already afforded to married couples to same-sex couples who chose to marry.

 

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740

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