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Spur of the Moment Marriages: Should You Elope?

It is the affordable alternative: enjoy a beautiful day, intimate and free of stress and high-cost. It’s your day, just for the two of you, so claim it!   Elope for the weekend.  It sounds too good to be true.  What is the reality?

The average age of eloping couples is going up, with some studies indicating that many people who elope are not getting married for the first time. That being said, here are some of the basic requirements for eloping in New York State:

  • Age. The bride and groom must be at least 15 years old to be legally married in New York State. You need parental consent if either the bride or groom is below the age of 18.
  • Identification. You must prove both identity and age.
    • Driver’s license, passport, employment picture ID and immigration record can all be used to verify identity.
    • Birth certificates and baptismal, naturalization and census records can all verify age.
    • Paperwork. Couples must apply for a marriage license in person with the town or city clerk. The clerk must witness the bride and groom or partners signing the application.
    • Waiting Period. The license itself will be issued immediately, but the ceremony may not take place until 24-hours later. This waiting period may be waived by an order of a justice of the Supreme Court or a judge of the County Court where either applicant resides so long as both parties are over the age of 16.

If you are going next door to Canada, and have all your documentation in order, including official copies of previous divorce decrees if applicable, you can obtain a marriage license within a half hour from a Provincial Registry Service office.  There are many services that can help you with this and anything else you might need.

Like any union, elopement should be thought through and planned for.  A family lawyer can help you to think about issues and draw up documentation to assist you in achieving your goals before and during the marriage.  If you have any questions about legal rights and obligations, please give our office a call.

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Randy S. Margulis
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As a Buffalo divorce lawyer for 25 years, I have devoted myself to solving the problems that affect families throughout the Buffalo metropolitan area and Western New York. As a family law attorney, I make it my goal to create a partnership of trust with my clients. People put their trust in me to handle cases that can potentially have a long-lasting impact on not only their lives, but the lives of their family as well.

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