So… where will you be married?
A number of pastors have moved here from other states over the last few years. It is important to remember that this synod encompasses three different legal jurisdictions: the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
I just read an article* which discussed a case where a couple was married in a religious ceremony in one state and moved to another. They later divorced, and at a hearing over child support and custody, the question of whether they were legally married came up. The courts finally decided that they were never legally married, because they had not followed the legal requirements in the state where the ceremony took place.
This reminded me that it is important to know the legal requirements placed on a pastor performing marriages in the jurisdiction where he or she is serving. If asked to perform a marriage in another jurisdiction, learn the requirements there as well as to how to become legally able to perform a marriage in that jurisdiction. This caution would also apply if a pastor performs a marriage in a more distant state.**
Reach Harold Sargeant at the synod office to discuss marriage officiating in Metro D.C. Synod jurisdictions.
* “What Pastors Should Know Before Performing Weddings: Florida ruling underscores importance of understanding local laws,” by Richard R. Hammar. The article was found in the June 15, 2011 issue of Essential Reminders, an electronic newsletter published by Hammar.
** Find an unofficial overview of state-by-state officiant requirements at usmarriagelaws.com.