HB 324-FN – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 324-FN
This bill provides that a man and woman whose marriage is solemnized by a minister of their religion shall be considered lawfully married. The bill is intended to create a distinction between a lawful marriage, which is solemnized by a minister without further state involvement, and a legal marriage, which has certain state procedural requirements and which may or may not be solemnized by a religious officiant.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five
AN ACT relative to requirements for legal marriages.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 New Section; Marriages; Lawful Marriage. Amend RSA 457 by inserting after section 37 the following new section:
457:37-a Lawful Marriage.
I. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a man and a woman who are joined in matrimony by a minister of their religion shall be recognized as lawfully married, provided that the couple is outside the degrees of relationship prohibited by RSA 457:1 and RSA 457:2.
II. In this section, a “lawful marriage” means a marriage that is solemnized by a minister of the religious body to which the couple belongs, without the completion of a marriage license or other civil contractual requirements, other than the requirement that the minister submit a copy of the record of the marriage to the division of vital records administration. A lawful marriage shall be distinct from a legal marriage as that term is used in this chapter.
III. A minister intending to solemnize a lawful marriage under this section shall notify the registrar of vital records of the intent prior to the marriage. Within 3 days of solemnizing the marriage, the minister shall notify the registrar of vital records and submit a record of the marriage to the division of vital records administration.
2 Completion of Marriage License Application. Amend RSA 457:22 to read as follows:
457:22 Completion of Marriage License Application. All persons proposing to be joined in legal marriage within the state shall complete a marriage license application with all facts required by RSA 5-C:7 to be entered in any town clerk's office. The clerk shall record the application in a book to be kept for that purpose.
3 Penalty for Solemnization Without Valid Certificate. Amend RSA 457:34 to read as follows:
457:34 Penalty for Solemnization Without Valid Certificate. If a minister or justice of the peace shall join any persons in legal marriage without having first received a certificate of the town clerk, or shall join any persons in marriage with a certificate which he or she knows to be invalid, he or she shall forfeit for each offense $60.
4 Certified Copy of the Record. Amend RSA 457:38 to read as follows:
457:38 Certified Copy of Record. A copy of the record of a marriage, certified by a city or town clerk [
or by], the registrar of vital records, or the minister pursuant to RSA 457:37-a, shall be received in all courts and places as evidence of the fact of the marriage.
5 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2006.
HB 324-FN - FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT relative to requirements for legal marriages.
The Department of State states this bill will increase state general fund expenditures by $60,526 in FY 2006, $54,751 in FY 2007, $57,222 in FY 2008, and $59,777 in FY 2009. There will be no fiscal impact on state, county, and local revenue or county and local expenditures.
The Department states that in order to meet the requirements for “lawful marriage” report collection, review and quality assurance, compilation, data analysis, reporting, and certificate issuance, the Department’s Division of Vital Records Administration (DVRA) assumes that one Planning Analyst/Data Systems position would be necessary. The position would continually input, analyze, and enhance the cleanliness and quality of the data, provide instruction for the additional providers of lawful marriage to assume maximal quality, serve as DVRA’s resource and contact with regards to provider issues and questions, implement a data quality review program involving the lawful marriage providers and the DVRA, and provide ongoing data collection and reporting training of new and old providers. The Department estimates there would be 3,500 lawful marriages reported annually from an estimated 500 ministers or religious bodies in the State. These new sites would be added to the DVRA databases. An enhancement to the existing Vital Records web-based automated software would be required to process this additional category of lawful marriage. The DVRA would need to construct standard data collection forms for all of the NH ministers and religious bodies so that lawful marriages can be registered. Ministers and religious bodies would need training in how to fill out the forms, and DVRA would provide this training. Funds for printing and postage would be necessary for the dissemination of the reporting form. Data would be available through the DVRA. The Department states the new position would be hired at Labor Grade 24, Step 1, and require a personal computer, office furniture, office supplies and training. The Department would use a contractor for the design, development, and deployment of software enhancements to the current vital records software, and estimates 320 hours of development and testing in FY 2006, at a cost of $59.71 per hour. Assuming a start date for the new position of October 1, 2005, and benefits at 44% of salary, the estimated fiscal impact is as follows:
FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009
Salary $27,027 $37,674 $39,390 $41,165
Benefits 11,892 16,577 17,332 18,112
Current Expenses 500 500 500 500
Equipment 2,000 0 0 0
Contracts 19,107 0 0 0
Total $60,526 $54,751 $57,222 $59,777