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Scutari Bill To Modernize NJ Marriage License Requirements Clears Committee

Eliminating Waiting Period, Streamlining Residency Rules Would Stimulate Tourism and Hospitality Industry

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari to modernize the state’s marriage license requirements, which would give New Jersey’s tourism and hospitality industry a competitive advantage over states across the region and the country, was approved yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“With beautiful and scenic locations throughout the state, New Jersey has great potential to be a wedding destination for couples throughout the US, but our current laws are cumbersome and restrict where, when and who can be married,” said Senator Scutari, D-Union. “By modernizing this process, we will open up New Jersey’s wedding market to out-of-state consumers, spurring economic growth for many small businesses and boosting our local economies.”

The bill, S-768, would eliminate the mandatory 72-hour waiting period for issuance of a marriage or civil union license after an application is made, giving New Jersey a competitive edge over neighboring states. The waiting period, established in 1934, made it cumbersome for out-of-state consumers to plan weddings at New Jersey’s many tourism destinations, depriving local economies of needed tourism dollars.

In addition, the bill would streamline residency requirements for New Jerseyans applying for marriage and civil union licenses. Under current law, residents must apply for a marriage or civil union license in the municipality where either applicant resides making it less convenient for residents to wed at one of the state’s over 50 destination wedding facilities and other premier accommodations. The bill would allow residents and out-of-state residents to apply for licenses in the municipality where the wedding ceremony is to be performed as well. This bill would also provide that marriages and civil unions may be annulled without cause within 30 days of the marriage or civil union ceremony.

The bill would also increase the marriage and civil union fees to $60 of which half would be dedicated to services for domestic violence victims.

“New Jersey’s wedding licensure laws are antiquated and represent a time where sharing of information between municipalities, counties and states was much more complicated,” said Senator Scutari. “We need to update our laws so that process is more convenient and enticing for both New Jersey residents and out-of-state couples to exchange their vows here in the Garden State.”

By eliminating the waiting period, the bill will make New Jersey more competitive with neighboring states, including Pennsylvania (72 hour waiting period), New York (24 hours), Delaware (24 hours), and Maryland (48 hours). Under the law, New Jersey would join Connecticut and Rhode Island as the only states in the Northeast with no waiting period. Twenty-seven other states do not require a minimum waiting period for issuing a marriage or civil union license.

The bill was approved last session by both houses, however, no action was taken by the governor. The committee approved the measure by a vote of 7-4. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review.