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Marriage Laws ┬╗ United States ┬╗ Marriage by Proxy


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A proxy marriage is one where someone stands in for the other party. During the solemnization of the marriage, based upon a power of attorney, an agent acts on behalf of one of the parties.

Historically, marriage by proxy has been around a long time. One of the more famous proxy marriages was in 1810, when Emperor Napoleon married Archduchess Marie Louise by proxy. During the early 1900's, proxy marriages increased significantly when many Japanese picture brides arrived in Angel Island. During war time, proxy marriages were more common.

The term today, though, is primarily connected to computer servers, annual stock meeting voting, and Munchausen Syndrome. Only a few states in the United States allow proxy marriages:

  1. Texas


  2. Montana


  3. Colorado has an absentee application for its residents. If one party cannot appear due to illness, is out of state, or incarcerated, he or she must obtain an absentee application from the Clerk and Recorder's office. The party applying must bring the absentee application along with identification for the absent party. Applicants need not be residents of Colorado. Absentee application must be notarized.


  4. New Mexico has no residency requirements. Although expensive, from $500 to $800, a proxy marriage can be arranged in one day, without travel, if you have a credit card.


  5. Mexico City; and


  6. Paraguay also deal in mail-order proxy marriages.

Because of the current restrictive marriage laws, a number of Israeli couples are getting married by proxy or "mail-in" marriage through the consulate of Paraguay in Tel Aviv. According to Israeli law, the Interior Ministry must recognize and register these marriages.

Whether a state will recognize a proxy marriage is a tricky question that seems to depend on whether or not the state law requires that both parties be present to apply for a license or to give their consent at the ceremony. Some states recognize a proxy marriage that was done in another state. Other states only recognize them as common-law marriage. Military personnel may annul a proxy marriage provided there is no consummation, no cohabitation, or no treatment as husband and wife after the marriage ceremony.

In Canada, proxy marriage is only recognized if the marriage was performed in a jurisdiction that allows proxy marriage. Proxy marriages are not recognized for immigration purposes in most countries, including the United States.

For what it's worth: proxy marriages are not cheap, and they are not readily available. It is advisable that you contact an attorney before getting married by proxy to make sure your marriage will be considered valid.

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