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Delaware Might Simplify Marriage Process for Parolees

Published Tuesday, Jun. 11th, 2024

The Legislative Hall in Dover, Delaware
The Delaware Senate meets at the Legislative Hall in Dover, pictured above.

Senate Bill would make it easier for people on probation and parole in Delaware to apply for a marriage license



Currently, people on probation or parole in Delaware must get special permission from a court officer before they can apply for a marriage license. This law makes it more difficult for them to reenter their communities and rejoin their families when they leave prison. 


Two Delaware lawmakers, Sen. Marie Pinkney and House Majority Leader Melissa Minor-Brown, have introduced a substitute bill to change this. The bill would remove the requirement for special permission to get married for these applicants. 


Related: Can You Get Married in Prison? Plus How to Find a Wedding Officiant While Incarcerated


Supporters of the bill say that current laws make it difficult for people leaving prison to rejoin their community, and that meaningful reform to Delaware’s criminal code is needed. This bill addresses many different areas of the criminal code regarding probation, including revisions to the marriage process. 


( An earlier version of the legislation was introduced last year. Read the most current version of the bill: Senate Substitute 2 for Senate Bill 4


Related: How to Officiate a Prison Wedding - Performing an Inmate’s Marriage Ceremony


Sen. Pinkney spoke in favor of the changes, saying, “Most people mistakenly believe that once your prison sentence is complete, they just open up the doors and you walk out free to rejoin society. In reality, your last day of detention is often just the start of a lengthy maze full of complicated hurdles and inflexible rules that many people feel are impossible to navigate.” (via Delaware Senate Democrats)


John Reynolds, another advocate for reform and the Deputy Policy & Advocacy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, added, “The current approach to probation focuses too much on surveillance and punishment rather than helping people successfully reenter society.” 


If passed, the bill would make the marriage process more straightforward for people on probation or parole in Delaware.


What’s next? The substitute bill (SS 2 for SB 4) was introduced in April and adopted in early June, 2024. It has not been voted on yet. It would take effect upon being signed into law. 

Get the full scoop in this news release from Delaware Senate Democrats: Update to probation and parole reform bill filed in the Delaware Senate




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Conviértete en un Oficiante de Bodas en Delaware

You can perform a wedding ceremony for friends and family in Delaware if you've been ordained online with American Marriage Ministries and complete the required local registration






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Bride and groom stand next to a beautiful wedding arch covered in seasonal fall flowers during an outdoor wedding ceremony in Delaware



Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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