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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

CHAPTER 517. MARRIAGE

Table of Sections
SectionHeadnote
517.0001APPLICATION OF LAWS 2005, CHAPTER 56, TERMINOLOGY CHANGES.
517.001DEFINITION.
517.01MARRIAGE A CIVIL CONTRACT.
517.02PERSONS CAPABLE OF CONTRACTING.
517.03PROHIBITED MARRIAGES.
517.04SOLEMNIZATION.
517.041POWER TO APPOINT COURT COMMISSIONER; DUTY.
517.05CREDENTIALS OF MINISTER.
517.06PARTIES EXAMINED.
517.07LICENSE.
517.071Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17
517.08APPLICATION FOR LICENSE.
517.09SOLEMNIZATION.
517.10CERTIFICATE; WITNESSES.
517.101CERTIFIED COPIES OF MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.
517.11Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5
517.12Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5
517.13PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO DELIVER AND FILE CERTIFICATE.
517.14ILLEGAL MARRIAGE; FALSE CERTIFICATE; PENALTY.
517.15UNAUTHORIZED PERSON PERFORMING CEREMONY.
517.16IMMATERIAL IRREGULARITY OF OFFICIATING PERSON DOES NOT VOID.
517.17Repealed, 1978 c 772 s 63
517.18MARRIAGE SOLEMNIZATION.
517.19Repealed, 1980 c 589 s 38
517.20APPLICATION.
517.21AMERICAN FAMILY DAY.
517.0001 APPLICATION OF LAWS 2005, CHAPTER 56, TERMINOLOGY CHANGES.
State agencies shall use the terminology changes specified in Laws 2005, chapter 56, section
1, when printed material and signage are replaced and new printed material and signage are
obtained. State agencies do not have to replace existing printed material and signage to comply
with Laws 2005, chapter 56, sections 1 and 2. Language changes made according to Laws 2005,
chapter 56, sections 1 and 2, shall not expand or exclude eligibility to services.
History: 2005 c 56 s 3
517.001 DEFINITION.
As used in this chapter, "local registrar" has the meaning given in section 144.212,
subdivision 10
.
History: 2004 c 273 s 2
517.01 MARRIAGE A CIVIL CONTRACT.
Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a
woman, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential. Lawful
marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex and only when a license has
been obtained as provided by law and when the marriage is contracted in the presence of two
witnesses and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith
believe to be authorized, so to do. Marriages subsequent to April 26, 1941, not so contracted
shall be null and void.
History: (8562) RL s 3552; 1941 c 459; 1977 c 441 s 1; 1978 c 772 s 1; 1997 c 203 art 10 s 1
517.02 PERSONS CAPABLE OF CONTRACTING.
Every person who has attained the full age of 18 years is capable in law of contracting
marriage, if otherwise competent. A person of the full age of 16 years may, with the consent of
the person's parents, guardian, or the court, as provided in section 517.08, receive a license to
marry, when, after a careful inquiry into the facts and the surrounding circumstances, the person's
application for a license is approved by the judge of the juvenile court of the county in which
the person resides. If the judge of juvenile court of the county in which the person resides is
absent from the county and has not by order assigned another judge or a retired judge to act in
the judge's stead, then the court commissioner or any judge of district court of the county may
approve the application for a license.
History: (8563) RL s 3553; 1927 c 166; 1949 c 374 s 1; 1963 c 795 s 1; 1967 c 506 s 1;
1973 c 725 s 72; 1981 c 58 s 1; 1995 c 189 s 8; 1996 c 277 s 1
517.03 PROHIBITED MARRIAGES.
    Subdivision 1. General. (a) The following marriages are prohibited:
(1) a marriage entered into before the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the
parties becomes final, as provided in section 518.145 or by the law of the jurisdiction where
the dissolution was granted;
(2) a marriage between an ancestor and a descendant, or between a brother and a sister,
whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption;
(3) a marriage between an uncle and a niece, between an aunt and a nephew, or between
first cousins, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, except as to marriages
permitted by the established customs of aboriginal cultures; and
(4) a marriage between persons of the same sex.
(b) A marriage entered into by persons of the same sex, either under common law or statute,
that is recognized by another state or foreign jurisdiction is void in this state and contractual rights
granted by virtue of the marriage or its termination are unenforceable in this state.
    Subd. 2. Developmentally disabled persons; consent by commissioner of human
services. Developmentally disabled persons committed to the guardianship of the commissioner
of human services and developmentally disabled persons committed to the conservatorship of
the commissioner of human services in which the terms of the conservatorship limit the right to
marry, may marry on receipt of written consent of the commissioner. The commissioner shall
grant consent unless it appears from the commissioner's investigation that the marriage is not in
the best interest of the ward or conservatee and the public. The court administrator of the district
court in the county where the application for a license is made by the ward or conservatee shall
not issue the license unless the court administrator has received a signed copy of the consent of
the commissioner of human services.
History: (8564) RL s 3554; 1911 c 222 s 1; 1937 c 407 s 1; 1945 c 12 s 1; 1947 c 623 s
1; 1959 c 638 s 1; 1963 c 795 s 2; 1974 c 406 s 52; 1975 c 208 s 34; 1978 c 772 s 2; 1979
c 259 s 1; 1984 c 654 art 5 s 58; 1985 c 21 s 67; 1986 c 444; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82; 1997 c
203 art 10 s 2; 2005 c 56 s 1
517.04 SOLEMNIZATION.
Marriages may be solemnized throughout the state by a judge of a court of record, a retired
judge of a court of record, a court administrator, a retired court administrator with the approval
of the chief judge of the judicial district, a former court commissioner who is employed by the
court system or is acting pursuant to an order of the chief judge of the commissioner's judicial
district, the residential school administrators of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and
the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, a licensed or ordained minister of any religious
denomination, or by any mode recognized in section 517.18.
History: (8565) RL s 3555; 1978 c 772 s 3; 1981 c 101 s 1; 1986 c 444; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s
82; 1987 c 377 s 10; 1987 c 384 art 1 s 55; 1991 c 85 s 1; 1995 c 129 s 1
517.041 POWER TO APPOINT COURT COMMISSIONER; DUTY.
The Third Judicial District may appoint as court commissioner for Fillmore and Olmsted
Counties respectively a person who was formerly employed by those counties as a court
commissioner.
The sole duty of an appointed court commissioner is to solemnize marriages.
History: 1982 c 499 s 1; 1983 c 136 s 1; 2006 c 260 art 5 s 46
517.05 CREDENTIALS OF MINISTER.
Ministers of any religious denomination, before they are authorized to solemnize a marriage,
shall file a copy of their credentials of license or ordination with the court administrator of the
district court of a county in this state, who shall record the same and give a certificate thereof.
The place where the credentials are recorded shall be endorsed upon and recorded with each
certificate of marriage granted by a minister.
History: (8566) RL s 3556; 1978 c 772 s 4; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82
517.06 PARTIES EXAMINED.
Every person authorized by law to perform the marriage ceremony, before solemnizing a
marriage, may examine the parties on oath, which oath the person is authorized to administer,
as to the legality of the intended marriage, and no person shall solemnize a marriage unless
satisfied that there is no legal impediment to it.
History: (8567) RL s 3557; 1978 c 772 s 5; 1986 c 444
517.07 LICENSE.
Before any persons are joined in marriage, a license shall be obtained from the local registrar
of any county. The marriage need not take place in the county where the license is obtained.
History: (8568) RL s 3558; 1957 c 410 s 1; 1978 c 772 s 6; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82; 2004
c 273 s 3
517.071 [Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17]
517.08 APPLICATION FOR LICENSE.
    Subdivision 1.[Renumbered subds 1a and 1b]
    Subd. 1a. Form. Application for a marriage license shall be made upon a form provided
for the purpose and shall contain the following information:
(1) the full names of the parties and the sex of each party;
(2) their post office addresses and county and state of residence;
(3) their full ages;
(4) if either party has previously been married, the party's married name, and the date,
place and court in which the marriage was dissolved or annulled or the date and place of death
of the former spouse;
(5) if either party is a minor, the name and address of the minor's parents or guardian;
(6) whether the parties are related to each other, and, if so, their relationship;
(7) the name and date of birth of any child of which both parties are parents, born before
the making of the application, unless their parental rights and the parent and child relationship
with respect to the child have been terminated;
(8) address of the bride and groom after the marriage to which the court administrator shall
send a certified copy of the marriage certificate;
(9) the full names the parties will have after marriage and the parties' Social Security
numbers. The Social Security numbers must be collected for the application but must not appear
on the marriage license;
(10) if one or both of the parties to the marriage license has a felony conviction under
Minnesota law or the law of another state or federal jurisdiction, the parties shall provide to the
county proof of service upon the prosecuting authority and, if applicable, the attorney general,
as required by section 259.13; and
(11) notice that a party who has a felony conviction under Minnesota law or the law of
another state or federal jurisdiction may not use a different surname after marriage except as
authorized by section 259.13, and that doing so is a gross misdemeanor.
    Subd. 1b. Term of license; fee; premarital education. (a) The local registrar shall examine
upon oath the party applying for a license relative to the legality of the contemplated marriage. If
at the expiration of a five-day period, on being satisfied that there is no legal impediment to it,
including the restriction contained in section 259.13, the local registrar shall issue the license,
containing the full names of the parties before and after marriage, and county and state of
residence, with the county seal attached, and make a record of the date of issuance. The license
shall be valid for a period of six months. In case of emergency or extraordinary circumstances, a
judge of the district court of the county in which the application is made, may authorize the license
to be issued at any time before the expiration of the five days. Except as provided in paragraph
(b), the local registrar shall collect from the applicant a fee of $110 for administering the oath,
issuing, recording, and filing all papers required, and preparing and transmitting to the state
registrar of vital statistics the reports of marriage required by this section. If the license should not
be used within the period of six months due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, it may
be surrendered to the local registrar for cancellation, and in that case a new license shall issue
upon request of the parties of the original license without fee. A local registrar who knowingly
issues or signs a marriage license in any manner other than as provided in this section shall pay to
the parties aggrieved an amount not to exceed $1,000.
    (b) The marriage license fee for parties who have completed at least 12 hours of premarital
education is $40. In order to qualify for the reduced license fee, the parties must submit at the
time of applying for the marriage license a signed and dated statement from the person who
provided the premarital education confirming that it was received. The premarital education must
be provided by a licensed or ordained minister or the minister's designee, a person authorized to
solemnize marriages under section 517.18, or a person authorized to practice marriage and family
therapy under section 148B.33. The education must include the use of a premarital inventory and
the teaching of communication and conflict management skills.
    (c) The statement from the person who provided the premarital education under paragraph
(b) must be in the following form:
    "I, (name of educator), confirm that (names of both parties) received at least 12 hours
of premarital education that included the use of a premarital inventory and the teaching of
communication and conflict management skills. I am a licensed or ordained minister, a person
authorized to solemnize marriages under Minnesota Statutes, section 517.18, or a person licensed
to practice marriage and family therapy under Minnesota Statutes, section 148B.33."
    The names of the parties in the educator's statement must be identical to the legal names of
the parties as they appear in the marriage license application. Notwithstanding section 138.17, the
educator's statement must be retained for seven years, after which time it may be destroyed.
    (d) If section 259.13 applies to the request for a marriage license, the local registrar shall
grant the marriage license without the requested name change. Alternatively, the local registrar
may delay the granting of the marriage license until the party with the conviction:
    (1) certifies under oath that 30 days have passed since service of the notice for a name
change upon the prosecuting authority and, if applicable, the attorney general and no objection
has been filed under section 259.13; or
    (2) provides a certified copy of the court order granting it. The parties seeking the marriage
license shall have the right to choose to have the license granted without the name change or to
delay its granting pending further action on the name change request.
    Subd. 1c. Disposition of license fee. (a) Of the marriage license fee collected pursuant to
subdivision 1b, paragraph (a), $25 must be retained by the county. The local registrar must pay
$85 to the commissioner of finance to be deposited as follows:
    (1) $50 in the general fund;
    (2) $3 in the state government special revenue fund to be appropriated to the commissioner
of public safety for parenting time centers under section 119A.37;
    (3) $2 in the special revenue fund to be appropriated to the commissioner of health for
developing and implementing the MN ENABL program under section 145.9255;
    (4) $25 in the special revenue fund is appropriated to the commissioner of employment and
economic development for the displaced homemaker program under section 116L.96; and
    (5) $5 in the special revenue fund is appropriated to the commissioner of human services for
the Minnesota Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative under section 256.742.
    (b) Of the $40 fee under subdivision 1b, paragraph (b), $25 must be retained by the county.
The local registrar must pay $15 to the commissioner of finance to be deposited as follows:
    (1) $5 as provided in paragraph (a), clauses (2) and (3); and
    (2) $10 in the special revenue fund is appropriated to the commissioner of employment and
economic development for the displaced homemaker program under section 116L.96.
    (c) The increase in the marriage license fee under paragraph (a) provided for in Laws 2004,
chapter 273, and disbursement of the increase in that fee to the special fund for the Minnesota
Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative under paragraph (a), clause (5), is
contingent upon the receipt of federal funding under United States Code, title 42, section 1315,
for purposes of the initiative.
    Subd. 2.[Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17]
    Subd. 3.[Repealed, 1978 c 699 s 17]
    Subd. 4. Report. The local registrar of each county shall annually report to the Department
of Health the number of marriage licenses issued in the county for which the fee in subdivision
1b, paragraph (a), was paid and the number for which the fee in subdivision 1b, paragraph (b),
was paid.
History: (8569) RL s 3559; 1931 c 401 s 1; 1939 c 243 s 1; 1949 c 374 s 1; 1951 c 700
s 1; 1955 c 762 s 1; 1957 c 886 s 1; 1963 c 795 s 3; 1969 c 1145 s 3; 1973 c 725 s 73; 1975 c
52 s 3; 1977 c 441 s 2,3; 1978 c 674 s 42; 1978 c 730 s 2; 1978 c 772 s 7; 1981 c 360 art 2 s
43,44; 1983 c 262 art 1 s 6; 1983 c 312 art 3 s 3,4; 1984 c 654 art 5 s 54; 1Sp1985 c 9 art 2
s 95,96; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 9 s 75; 1986 c 444; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82; 1989 c 282 art 2 s 187;
1989 c 335 art 4 s 98; 1992 c 464 art 1 s 47; 1995 c 257 art 4 s 11,12; 1997 c 162 art 2 s 26;
1997 c 203 art 5 s 37; art 6 s 34; art 10 s 3; 1998 c 254 art 2 s 59; 2000 c 311 art 3 s 4,5; 2000
c 444 art 2 s 14; 2001 c 7 s 84; 1Sp2001 c 10 art 2 s 81,82; 2003 c 112 art 2 s 50; 2003 c 128
art 12 s 3,4; 2003 c 130 s 12; 2004 c 206 s 52; 2004 c 273 s 4-6; 1Sp2005 c 1 art 4 s 114,115;
2007 c 146 art 7 s 2; 2007 c 148 art 2 s 71,72
517.09 SOLEMNIZATION.
No particular form is required to solemnize a marriage, except: the parties shall declare in
the presence of a person authorized to solemnize marriages and two attending witnesses that they
take each other as husband and wife; or the marriage shall be solemnized in a manner provided by
section 517.18.
History: (8570) RL s 3560; 1945 c 409 s 1-3; 1951 c 255 s 1; 1951 c 700 s 2; 1978 c 772 s 9
517.10 CERTIFICATE; WITNESSES.
The person solemnizing a marriage shall prepare and sign three certificates thereof. Each
certificate shall contain the full names before and after marriage and county and state of
residences of the parties and the date and place of the marriage. Each certificate shall also contain
the signatures of at least two of the witnesses present at the marriage who shall be at least 16 years
of age. The person solemnizing the marriage shall give each of the parties one such certificate,
and shall immediately make a record of such marriage, and file one such certificate with the local
registrar of the district court of the county in which the license was issued within five days after
the ceremony. The local registrar shall record such certificate in a book kept for that purpose.
History: (8571) RL s 3561; 1949 c 374 s 3; 1951 c 700 s 3; 1977 c 441 s 5; 1986 c 444;
1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82; 2004 c 273 s 7
517.101 CERTIFIED COPIES OF MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.
Within ten days of receipt of the certificate and after recording the certificate the local
registrar shall prepare a certified copy of the certificate to be mailed to the married parties. The
person solemnizing the marriage shall indicate at the time of filing the certificate with the local
registrar that the person wishes to receive a copy.
History: 1977 c 441 s 4; 1986 c 444; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82; 1991 c 281 s 2
517.11 [Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5]
517.12 [Repealed, 1951 c 700 s 5]
517.13 PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO DELIVER AND FILE CERTIFICATE.
Every person solemnizing a marriage who neglects to deliver to the local registrar a
certificate within the time set forth in section 517.10 shall forfeit a sum not exceeding $100, and
every local registrar who neglects to record a certificate shall forfeit a like sum.
History: (8574) RL s 3563; 1978 c 772 s 10; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82; 2004 c 273 s 8
517.14 ILLEGAL MARRIAGE; FALSE CERTIFICATE; PENALTY.
A person authorized by law to solemnize marriages who knowingly solemnizes a marriage
contrary to the provisions of this chapter, or knowing of any legal impediment to the proposed
marriage, or who willfully makes a false certificate of any marriage or pretended marriage
is guilty of a misdemeanor.
History: (8575) RL s 3564; 1978 c 772 s 11
517.15 UNAUTHORIZED PERSON PERFORMING CEREMONY.
A person who knowingly undertakes to solemnize a marriage, without lawful authority to
do so, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
History: (8576) RL s 3565; 1978 c 772 s 12; 1986 c 444
517.16 IMMATERIAL IRREGULARITY OF OFFICIATING PERSON DOES NOT VOID.
A marriage solemnized before a person professing to be lawfully authorized to do so shall
not be adjudged to be void, nor shall its validity be in any way affected, on account of a want
of jurisdiction or authority in the supposed officer or person, if the marriage is consummated
with the full belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been
lawfully joined in marriage.
History: (8577) RL s 3566; 1978 c 772 s 13
517.17 [Repealed, 1978 c 772 s 63]
517.18 MARRIAGE SOLEMNIZATION.
    Subdivision 1. Friends or Quakers. All marriages solemnized among the people called
Friends or Quakers, in the form heretofore practiced and in use in their meetings, shall be valid and
not affected by any of the foregoing provisions. The clerk of the meeting in which such marriage is
solemnized, within one month after any such marriage, shall deliver a certificate of the same to the
local registrar of the county where the marriage took place, under penalty of not more than $100.
Such certificate shall be filed and recorded by the court administrator under a like penalty. If such
marriage does not take place in such meeting, such certificate shall be signed by the parties and at
least six witnesses present, and shall be filed and recorded as above provided under a like penalty.
    Subd. 2. Baha'i. Marriages may be solemnized among members of the Baha'i faith by
the chair of an incorporated local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, according to the form and
usage of such society.
    Subd. 3. Hindus; Muslims. Marriages may be solemnized among Hindus or Muslims by
the person chosen by a local Hindu or Muslim association, according to the form and usage of
their respective religions.
    Subd. 4. American Indians. Marriages may be solemnized among American Indians
according to the form and usage of their religion by an Indian Mide' or holy person chosen by
the parties to the marriage.
    Subd. 5. Construction of section. Nothing in subdivisions 2 to 4 shall be construed to alter
the requirements of section 517.01, 517.09 or 517.10.
History: (8578) RL s 3567; 1947 c 66 s 1; 1967 c 247 s 1; 1976 c 11 s 1; 1979 c 243 s 12;
1986 c 444; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 82; 2004 c 273 s 9
517.19 [Repealed, 1980 c 589 s 38]
517.20 APPLICATION.
Except as provided in section 517.03, subdivision 1, paragraph (b), all marriages contracted
within this state prior to March 1, 1979 or outside this state that were valid at the time of the
contract or subsequently validated by the laws of the place in which they were contracted or by
the domicile of the parties are valid in this state.
History: 1978 c 772 s 15; 1997 c 203 art 10 s 4
517.21 AMERICAN FAMILY DAY.
The first Sunday in August is designated American family day.
History: 1981 c 111 s 1