New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order Allows Acquiring of Marriage Licenses and Ceremonies Remotely

During his April 18 COVID-19 Press Conference, Governor Cuomo would be asked about marriage licenses. It would be a good question in light of the current Novel Coronavirus Pandemic that’s been seizing NYC and New York State. He would respond inquisitively, wondering out loud how good of a question it was. Mr. Cuomo also jokingly made a reference to how divorces would be going up. He turned to the Secretary of the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, who announced that an Executive Order would be signed allowing people to not only obtain a marriage license remotely, but as well carry out ceremonies.

Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa:

“We’re signing an executive order today allowing people to get their marriage licenses remotely and also allowing clerks to perform ceremonies over video. So if that’s an avenue people want to go down then it’ll be available to them.”

Cuomo:

“Video marriage ceremonies, there is now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage, no excuse. You can do it by ‘zoom’,” said the Governor laughing.

The related portion of the executive order would read as follows:

IN ADDITION, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to issue any directive during a disaster emergency necessary to cope with the disaster, I hereby issue the following directives for the period from the date of this Executive Order through May 18, 2020:

Any issuance of a marriage license application, marriage license, or witnessing or solemnizing of the marriage ceremony, that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met: The couple seeking the marriage services, must present valid photo ID to verify identity whenever required by law the during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after; the video conference must allow for direct interaction between the couple and the town or city clerk, the witness or the person to solemnize the marriage (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing or engaged in the marriage ceremony); the couple must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the jurisdiction where the marriage is legally allowed to occur, within the State of New York; the couple must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the town or city clerk, the witnesses, the person to solemnize the marriage on the same date it was signed; the town or city clerk, witness or person who solemnizes the marriage may sign the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the person responsible for the document by law; to the extent practicable, all parties will use their best efforts to ensure the document is transmitted in the most confidential manner and information will not be released to any third party not associated with the marriage license and marriage ceremony; and the electronic signed copy of the marriage license application or marriage license will become the official document for purposes of Domestic Relations Law. Local town and city clerks may provide guidance related to how marriage licensure applications and issuance will be implemented in their jurisdictions.