FAQ #9

Question #9:

Immediately after the wedding at which I presided, I noticed that the license was issued 45 days before the date of the wedding.  Doesn’t the marriage license expire in 30 days in Texas?  If so, what action should I take? (Response)

Question #9:

Immediately after the wedding at which I presided, I noticed that the license was issued 45 days before the date of the wedding.  Doesn’t the marriage license expire in 30 days in Texas?  If so, what action should I take?

Answer:

Yes.  Section 2.201 of the Texas Family Code provides that if wedding does not take place before the 31st day after the date the license is issued, the marriage license expires.

Under this question, the officiant did not determine whether the license had expired before the wedding, which is an obligation imposed upon him under Section 2.207 of the Family Code.  Conducting the wedding after the license is expired is a misdemeanor offense (punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500).  Even so, the marriage is not void or voidable on that basis.  The officiant and the couple should sign the license and file the license with the county as they would otherwise normally sign and file the marriage license (not later than 30 days after the date of the wedding as required by Section 2.206 of the Family Code).

Note:

This question underscores the importance for those who prepare couples to receive the sacrament to remind couples to obtain the license not earlier than 31 days before the wedding and not later than 3 days before the wedding.

The answer does not address whether the county clerk will report the matter for prosecution or whether the county attorney will prosecute the matter, as that answer depends on the county, the circumstances, whether any prior occurrences are of record, and whether the prosecutor or judge is willing to waive the fine.  Additionally, the answer does not address who pays the fine.  The officiant is responsible for the payment of the fine if prosecuted.  The circumstances of each particular situation will dictate whether it is appropriate for the officiant to ask for reimbursement.