AN ACT Concerning Marriages and Marriage Licenses.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware, in General Assembly met:
Section 1. A man shall not marry his mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, grand-daughter, father's sister, mother's sister, brother's daughter or sister's daughter. A woman shall not marry her father, grandfather, brother, son, grandson, father's brother, mother's brother, brother's son or sister's son. Marriage between a white person and a negro or mulatto, between paupers or between a person of sound mind and an insane or idiotic person shall be unlawful. If a marriage prohibited by this section be solemnized, it shall be void and the parties thereto shall each be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined one hundred dollars, and in default of the payment of such fine shall be imprisoned not exceeding thirty days, and if any person authorized to issue a marriage license shall knowingly or willfully issue a license for such marriage, and if any person authorized to solemnize marriage shall knowingly or willfully solemnize such marriage, or if any person shall knowingly or willfully assist in the contracting or solemnizing of such marriage, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined one hundred dollars and in default of the payment of such fine, shall be imprisoned not exceeding thirty days. If a marriage prohibited by this section shall be contracted or solemnized outside of the State and the parties thereto shall afterwards live and cohabit as husband and wife within the State, they shall each be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished in the same manner as though the marriage had been contracted within this State.
Section 2. Any ordained minister of the gospel and every minister in charge of a recognized church, and the Mayor of the City of Wilmington are hereby authorized to solemnize marriages between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation. Marriages may also be solemnized or contracted according to the forms and usages of any religious society where either of the parties belongs to such religious society, but no marriage shall be solemnized or contracted without the production of a license regularly issued as hereinafter provided authorizing such marriage. If any person, not authorized by this section, shall falsely solemnize a marriage, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined one hundred dollars, and in default of the payment of such fine shall be imprisoned not exceeding thirty days, and such marriage shall be void unless it be in other respects lawful and be consummated with the full belief of either of the parties in its validity.
Section 3. From and after the passage of this Act, it shall be necessary for persons intending to be married within this State, if both are non-residents of the State, to first obtain a marriage license at least ninety-six (96) hours prior to the time the ceremony is to be performed, and if one or both of the parties be residents of this State, to first obtain the said license at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the time the ceremony is to be performed and deliver the same to the person who is to officiate, before the proposed marriage can be lawfully performed; provided that if the marriage is to be performed by or before any religious' society, institution or organization, the license shall be delivered to the said religious society, institution or organization or any officer thereof.
Section 4. From and after the passage of this Act, all marriage licenses shall be furnished to the Clerks of the Peace of the several Counties of this State by the Secretary of State upon the receipt of the sum of Two Dollars for each license so furnished. That Justices of the Peace shall have the privilege to procure from the Clerk of the Peace in the County in which said Justice of the Peace is resident, marriage licenses at a cost of Two Dollars and Fifty Cents each and the said Justices of the Peace shall sell the same for not more than Three Dollars each; provided, however, that no Justice of the Peace in the State of Delaware shall sell a marriage license to applicants when both parties to the proposed marriage are non-residents of the State of Delaware, but said non-residents shall make application to the Clerks of the Peace of the several Counties of this State, or to the deputies of such Clerks of the Peace, regularly appointed and qualified. No marriage license shall be issued by a Clerk of the Peace of the several Counties of this State, or by a Justice of the Peace when either of the contracting parties, at the time of making the application, is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or a narcotic drug, or is an imbecile, epileptic or of unsound mind, nor shall any such license be issued to any person who is or has been an inmate, of any insane asylum, unless it appears that such person has been satisfactorily discharged from each asylum. Any Clerk of the Peace, or any Deputy of such, or Justice of the Peace, who shall knowingly or willfully act in violation of the provisions of this Act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined one hundred dollars, and in default of the payment of such fine, shall be imprisoned not exceeding thirty days.
Section 5. A marriage license under this Act shall be in the following form:
State of Delaware, ss.
To any minister of the gospel or other person authorized by the laws of the State of Delaware to solemnize marriage. You are hereby authorized to join in the holy bonds of matrimony, according to the laws of the State of Delaware:
__________ of _____________ and ______________ of __________
Witness ___________ Esquire, Governor, of the said State, at Dover, the ____________ day of ________ 19 __
By the Governor.
Secretary of State.
On the back of each license, shall be the following:
This license issued at ________ in the County of _________ this ________ day of ______ A. D. 19__, at _____ o'clock _____ M.
___________ of the Peace.
There shall be attached to said license two certificates in the following form:
I hereby certify that on this ________ day of ________ A. D., 19__, at ________ in the County of ________ at the hour of _______ o'clock _______ M. ________ of ________ and _______ of _________ were by me united in the holy bonds of matrimony in accordance with the laws of the State of Delaware.
One of said certificates shall be given to the parties at the time of their marriage and the other shall within four days be returned to the Clerk of the Peace of the County in which the license was issued by the person officiating at said marriage and the said Clerk of the Peace shall thereupon enter in the Marriage Record Book the date of said marriage and the name of the person performing said ceremony and the said Marriage Record Book so kept shall be a public record, and shall be open for inspection to the public, and shall be admitted as evidence of the facts therein contained in any court of record. The Clerk of the Peace of New Castle County shall, within the first three days of each month, prepare and send to the Registrar of Vital Statistics of Register of the City of Wilmington, during the preceding month, with the entries concerning each marriage as they appear in the said Marriage Record Book. Where a marriage is contracted according to the forms and usuages of any religious society, the wording of the certificates may be altered, in accordance with the facts of the case and the forms and usuages of such religious society. If any person officiating at said marriage shall fail to return to the office of the Clerk of the Peace the certificate within four days as hereinbefore provided, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined twenty-five dollars.
Section 6. Any marriage license issued shall be immediately noted by the person issuing the same in a book called the Marriage License Book, to be kept by him in his office, the said book to contain the names and addresses of the parties to whom the license has been issued, the ages of the said parties, and the time when the said license was issued. The said Marriage License Book so kept shall be a public record and open for inspection to the public.
Before any marriage license shall be issued by any person authorized to issue the same, as herein provided, in the case where both of the contracting parties are nonresidents of this State, he shall examine both parties in person upon oath, and shall inquire the full names of the parties desiring the license, their places of residence, the names of their parents and the parents' residences, their occupation, age, color, whether previously married, and their relationship, if any, the answers to which inquiries shall be set down in the Marriage Record Book and the parties applying for the said license shall subscribe their names thereto, and the said license shall be issued only after it has thus been made to appear that no legal impediment to be* (*the (printed as in original bill)) proposed marriage exists.
In the case where one or both of the contracting parties are residents of this State, the procedure shall be the same as in the case where both are non-residents, except that the application in person, the answers and the signature on the Marriage Record Book of one of the contracting parties shall be sufficient, and such answers need not be made under oath; provided that the person issuing the license may require the applicant to answer his inquiries on oath or affirmation, if in his judgment, such oath or affirmation is necessary to satisfy himself of legality of the proposed marriage. If neither of the parties be personally known to the person issuing the license as a resident of the State, at least one of them must be identified as such, to his satisfaction. In every case, the person issuing the license shall mark on the back of the license, in the blanks for that purpose, the place and precise time of issue, and shall sign his name below.
Section 7. If any male applicant for a license to marry shall be a minor under the age of twenty-one years, or any such female applicant under the age of eighteen years, such license shall not be issued unless the parents or guardian of said minor, if there be any, shall first certify under their bands and seals in the presence of two reputable witnesses, their consent thereto, which consent shall be delivered to the person issuing the license.
Section 8. If any person applying for a license under this Act, shall knowingly make false answer to any of the inquiries of the person issuing the license applied to for a license, after having been sworn or affirmed to answer truly, he or she shall be deemed guilty of perjury and shall upon conviction thereof, be subject to the penalties imposed therefor by the laws of this State. Every person authorized by this Act to issue marriage licenses, is hereby empowered to administer oaths or affirmations to the parties applying for the license.
Section 9. If any person or persons, or any religious society, institution or organization, having authority to solemnize marriages, shall perform any marriage ceremony between parties without the presentation of a license therefor, obtained in accordance with the provisions of this Act, or shall perform the same prior to the expiration of ninety-six (96) hours from the time of the issuance of the license, when both parties are non-residents of the State, or prior to the expiration of twenty-four (24) hours from the time of the issuance of the license when one or both parties are residents of the State, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or both, at the discretion of the Court. Any person, religious society, institution or organization authorized to perform the ceremony of marriage, who shall make any false certificate of marriage, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined one hundred dollars. Nothing in this Act contained shall be deemed or taken to render any common law or other marriage, otherwise lawful, invalid by reason of the failure to take out a license as is herein provided.
Section 10. All marriages heretofore performed by a minister of any religion, other than a stated and ordained minister of the gospel, if otherwise valid, shall be as valid as if the same had been performed by a stated and ordained minister of the gospel.
Section 11. In the event that any section of this Act, or part thereof, shall be held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such adjudication shall not affect the other portions of this Act.
Section 12. All Acts and parts of Acts inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed, and this Act shall take effect May first, 1913.
Approved March 20, A. D. 1913.