REQUIREMENTS FOR OBTAINING A MARRIAGE LICENSE (The following requirements are promulgated by the Rhode Island Department of Health. There will be no exceptions to them. Please read all instructions carefully) In order to obtain a marriage license, the bride and groom must personally appear at the town clerk’s office to sign the marriage license. If the bride and groom, or only the bride, are Rhode Island residents, the license must be obtained from the town or city clerk’s office of the bride’s residence. If only the groom is a Rhode Island resident, the license must be obtained from the town or city hall of the groom’s residence. In either case, the marriage can take place anywhere in Rhode Island. If neither the bride nor the groom is a Rhode Island resident, the license must be obtained from the clerk’s office in the town or city where the marriage will take place in order for the marriage record to be valid. A CERTIFIED COPY of the birth certificates of both the bride and groom, obtained from the clerk’s office in the town or city where the event occurred, must be presented. A photocopy or a hospital copy (souvenir) will not be accepted. In lieu of a birth certificate, for persons born outside the United States, a valid passport along with a valid driver’s license, a naturalization paper or an alien card along with a valid driver’s license, or a military identification card along with a valid driver’s license may be accepted. If either the bride or groom has been previously married and the marriage ended in divorce, a CERTIFED COPY of the FINAL decree of divorce must be presented. A photocopy or a copy supplied by an attorney will not be accepted. The certified copy can be obtained from the clerk of the court in which the divorce was finalized. If the previous marriage ended in death, a CERTIFIED COPY of the death record, obtained from the clerk’s office in the town or city where the event occurred, must be presented. A photocopy will not be accepted. If the birth certificate, death certificate or final decree of divorce is in a foreign language, it must be translated through the International Institute of Rhode Island or by a certified translator proficient in both English and the foreign language. The translated document must be notarized. The fee for a marriage license is twenty-four dollars ($24.00). The marriage license is valid for three months and, if not used, should be returned to the city or town clerk who issued the license. The marriage must be performed in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses who have reached the age of majority (18 years of age). They need not be the attendants, but may be any persons who have witnessed the ceremony. Persons eligible to perform marriages in Rhode Island are: ordained clergy or elder in good standing; judges of the supreme court, superior court, family court, workers’ compensation court, district court or administrative adjudication court, the clerk of the supreme court, clerks of the superior court, family court, district court or administrative adjudication court; administrators of the workers’ compensation court; former judges and former administrators of these courts; former chief clerks of the district court; former clerks of a superior court; judges and former judges of the municipal courts of the cities and towns of the state and of the police court of the town of Johnston; probate judges; clerks emeritus of the superior court; and wardens of the town of New Shoreham (in New Shoreham only). This office will provide, upon request, a list of judges from Westerly who perform marriages. Please note: In Rhode Island, Justices of the Peace are prohibited from performing marriages. A Minor’s Permit to marry must be completed if a female applicant is sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years of age or the bride or groom, regardless of age, is under the control of a legal guardian. This permit is provided by the clerk’s office. The permit must be signed and notarized in the presence of the city or town clerk or any clerk employed in the office. A female under the age of sixteen (16) and a male under the age of eighteen (18) cannot obtain a marriage license in this state without the approval of the Family Court. A marriage by proxy can be performed only if the bride or groom is incarcerated or is a patient in a hospital or is permanently housebound. The proxy must be at least eighteen (18) years old and must present to the clerk the aforementioned necessary documents required to obtain a marriage license, along with the marriage application accompanied by a signed statement from a doctor that the patient (if applicable) is competent to sign and an affidavit, provided by the clerk’s office, signed by the bride or groom authorizing the proxy to act in his or her stead. The proxy may not act as a witness on the marriage license. The clerk has the right to refuse to issue a license by proxy.
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