Friday, March 18, 2005

"Legally Wed?"


Got into a bit of a discussion the other day (oh, alright; it was an outright arguement) regarding the legality of various ministers to marry a couple in the state of Kentucky.

It all began when I simply stated that a minister friend of mine had to be bonded before he was able to perform such a ceremony, which is a fairly simple process since all he has to do is own at least $50.00 worth of property.

The person that was arguing against me stated that ANY minister could marry someone legally, including some country preacher out in the sticks. So....I did some digging into the specific laws governing such in this state.

1) Not just anyone can perform a legal marriage ceremony just because they claim their a minister and have ,heard the calling. That just doesn't work. Not all ministers have to be bonded, but they must at least be recognized AS a minister in their religious group to do so. And not just by their church, but by the sect or denomination of which the church is a member ( i.e., if they're a minister in the Methodist Church, it's not legal if only that church says he/she's a minister; the Methodist Church as a whole has to agree upon that fact as well). There's a reason for that. It's to keep just any bum from off the street with little or no knowledge of that church or religion to claim he's a minister and have such rights. Just like being a policeman, fireman, or any professional, one MUST be certified.

2) Justices of The Peace and judges can also perform wedding ceremonies legally; whether they have to be bonded or not, I do not know, but they DO have to actually be a legal judge or Justice of the Peace and recognized/certified as such by the state .

Another point the person I was having this arguement with stated was then, "why doesn't the state tell them they aren't married? I would think for probably a couple of reasons. The minister probably didn't file the ceremony WITH the county in which the ceremony was performed, or, maybe because the state doesn't really care because a good percentage of such weddings last longer that seven years. And if you're together as a couple living in the same residence, then you're legally married by common law(besides that, if you're of legal age then there's no laws against living together).

I would think in such cases that if , say, one of the couple died before the passing of seven years, that any inheritance could be protested by other members of the immediate families (but that's something I really haven't dug into yet). I would also think that also any changes in social security benefits or armed service benefits could as well be in question .

If anyone has further information regarding the legalities of such in Kentucky, I'd be really interested to hear about them, but please do state the law with references or not just here say or personal opinion.

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