MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

1998 Regular Session

To: Judiciary A

By: Representative Flaggs

House Bill 185

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 93-1-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE COUNSELING BEFORE THE GRANTING OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES. 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

SECTION 1. Section 93-1-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

93-1-5. It shall be unlawful for the circuit court clerk to issue a marriage license until the following conditions precedent have been complied with:

(a) Parties desiring a marriage license shall make application therefor in writing to the clerk of the circuit court of any county in the State of Mississippi; provided, however, that if the female applicant shall be under the age of twenty-one (21) years and shall be a resident of the State of Mississippi, said application shall be made to the circuit court clerk of the county of residence of such female applicant. Said application shall be forthwith filed with the circuit court clerk and shall include the names, ages and addresses of the parties applying; the names and addresses of the parents of the parties applying, and if no parents, then names and addresses of the guardian or next of kin; the signatures of witnesses; and any other data which may be required by law or the Mississippi State Board of Health. The application shall be sworn to by both applicants.

(b) The application shall remain on file, open to the public, in the office of the circuit court clerk for a period of three (3) days before the clerk is authorized to issue the marriage license. Provided, however, that if satisfactory proof is furnished to the judge of any circuit, chancery or county court that sufficient reasons exist, then the judge of any such court in the judicial district where either of such parties resides if they be over the age of twenty-one (21) years, or where the female resides if she be under the age of twenty-one (21), may waive the three-day waiting period and by written instrument authorize the clerk of the court to issue the marriage license to the parties if they are otherwise qualified by law. Authorization shall be a part of the confidential files of the clerk of the court, subject to inspection only by written permission of the judge. If either of the applying parties appears from the evidence to be under twenty-one (21) years of age, the circuit court clerk, immediately upon filing the application, shall cause notice of the filing of said application to be sent by prepaid certified mail to the father, mother, guardian or next of kin of both applying parties at the address named in said application.

(c) An affidavit showing the age of both applying parties shall be made by either the father, mother, guardian or next of kin of each of the contracting parties and filed with the clerk of the circuit court along with the application; or in lieu thereof, said both applying parties shall appear in person before the circuit court clerk and make and subscribe an oath in person, which said affidavit shall be attached to and noted on the application for the marriage license. In addition to either of the previous conditions stated, further proof of age shall be presented to the circuit court clerk in the form of either a birth certificate, baptismal record, armed service discharge, armed service identification card, life insurance policy, insurance certificate, school record, driver's license, or other official document evidencing age. Said document substantiating age and date of birth shall be examined by the circuit court clerk before whom application is made, and the circuit court clerk shall retain in his file with the application such document or a certified or photostatic copy thereof.

(d) The clerk shall not issue a marriage license under the provisions of this section unless the male applicant is at least seventeen (17) years of age, and the female is at least fifteen (15) years of age; provided, however, that if satisfactory proof is furnished to the judge of any circuit, chancery or county court that sufficient reasons exist and that said parties desire to be married to each other and that the parents or other person in loco parentis of the person or persons so under age consent thereto, then the judge of any such court in the county where either of such parties resides may waive the minimum age requirement and by written instrument authorize the clerk of the court to issue the marriage license to the parties if they are otherwise qualified by law. Authorization shall be a part of the confidential files of the clerk of the court, subject to inspection only by written permission of the judge.

(e) A medical certificate dated within thirty (30) days prior to the application shall be presented to the circuit court clerk showing that the applicant is free from syphilis, as nearly as can be determined by a blood test performed in a laboratory approved by the State Board of Health. The medical certificate may be obtained through the local health department by the applicant or applicants, or it may be obtained through any private laboratory approved by the State Board of Health. Said medical certificate shall be examined by the circuit court clerk and filed in a permanent file kept by the clerk for this purpose.

(f) In no event shall a license be issued by the circuit court clerk when it appears to the circuit court clerk that the applicants are, or either of them is, drunk, insane or an imbecile.

(g) An affidavit from both parties seeking a marriage license which states that the parties have successfully completed counseling sessions with a licensed counselor or clergyman regarding marriage. The affidavit shall state that the counselor or clergyman has determined that both parties understand the responsibilities and implications of entering into a contract of marriage.

Any circuit clerk shall be liable under his official bond because of noncompliance with the provisions of this section.

Any circuit court clerk who issues a marriage license without complying with the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) and not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.