County Clerks, ♪♪what Are They Good For?♪♪


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On almost all of the references to legal requirements of the various states you will find the statement "See the County Clerk for additional information."

This is really a misleading statement. County Clerks, by law, cannot give you any legal advice. They are able to give you information related to the completion of required forms or the procedures they require for various duties that the county clerks office is charged.

What this means to you is simply this. If you were to ask them how to complete the marriage license, or the time frame for the ceremony and return of the license, they will gladly give you good and accurate information. If, however, you were to ask them about any required language in the ceremony they cannot advise you on that. It would be considered giving legal advice.

So, just what can you and can you not ask of the county clerk?

Examples of what you can ask (and expect to receive an answer):

What do I put in this blank on the marriage license?

Can I return the license by mail?

Examples of what you can ask, but don't expect to get an answer:

Do you have a sample ceremony?

Can I perform a marriage on a ship?

And the favorite is:

How do I register to perform marriages?

This is a tricky one. If the state requires ministers to be registered, and the county clerk does the registrations, then you will get a good and valid answer. If, however, the state does not require registration OR the county clerk is not responsible for registrations, then you will likely not get an accurate answer, or you will get no answer at all. If the clerk appears even slightly confused about an answer for this do not rely on his answer. Seek your answer elsewhere. This is a case where the county clerk is not all that you may think he is. They don't know everything, and some are down right useless.

<span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%'>As always this is not legal advice. This is worth exactly what you didn't pay for it. If you desire legal advice you should consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction.

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