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Who can Solemnize Marriage in New Hampshire

The law(s) below are the relevant statutes relating to who can solemnize marriage and officiant registration in New Hampshire (where applicable).


§ 457:31Solemnization Of Marriage.

A marriage may be solemnized in the following manner:

I. In a civil ceremony by a justice of the peace as commissioned by the state, by a state supreme court justice, superior court judge, or circuit court judge, and by judges of the United States appointed pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, by bankruptcy judges appointed pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution, or by United States magistrate judges appointed pursuant to federal law; or

II. In a religious ceremony by any minister of the gospel in the state who has been ordained according to the usage of his or her denomination, resides in the state, and is in regular standing with the denomination; by any member of the clergy who is not ordained but is engaged in the service of the religious body to which he or she belongs, and who resides in the state, after being licensed therefor by the secretary of state; or within his or her parish, by any minister residing out of the state, but having a pastoral charge wholly or partly in this state.

RS 147:6. CS 156:6. 1861, 2484:1. GS 161:9. 1877, 57:1. GL 180:9. PS 174:8. 1919, 56:1. 1921, 79:1. PL 286:28. RL 338:31. RSA 457:31. 1969, 435:1. 1998, 294:1. 2001, 11:1. 2006, 86:2. 2009, 59:3. 2014, 9:1, eff. July 13, 2014.

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solemnization of marriage

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List of All 50 New Hampshire Marriage Laws

Below you can read through our curated list of all New Hampshire laws related to marriage, weddings, officiants, and marriage licenses. If it is in any way marriage related, you will find it here.


§ 457:35Penalty For Solemnization By Unauthorized Person.

If a person not authorized by this chapter to solemnize marriages shall join any persons in marriage, with or without a certificate, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

RS 147:13. CS 156:10. GS 161:11. GL 180:11. PS 174:11. PL 286:32. RL 338:35. RSA 457:35. 1973, 529:113, eff. Oct. 31, 1973 at 11:59 p.m.


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§ 457:31Solemnization Of Marriage.

A marriage may be solemnized in the following manner:

I. In a civil ceremony by a justice of the peace as commissioned by the state, by a state supreme court justice, superior court judge, or circuit court judge, and by judges of the United States appointed pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, by bankruptcy judges appointed pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution, or by United States magistrate judges appointed pursuant to federal law; or

II. In a religious ceremony by any minister of the gospel in the state who has been ordained according to the usage of his or her denomination, resides in the state, and is in regular standing with the denomination; by any member of the clergy who is not ordained but is engaged in the service of the religious body to which he or she belongs, and who resides in the state, after being licensed therefor by the secretary of state; or within his or her parish, by any minister residing out of the state, but having a pastoral charge wholly or partly in this state.

RS 147:6. CS 156:6. 1861, 2484:1. GS 161:9. 1877, 57:1. GL 180:9. PS 174:8. 1919, 56:1. 1921, 79:1. PL 286:28. RL 338:31. RSA 457:31. 1969, 435:1. 1998, 294:1. 2001, 11:1. 2006, 86:2. 2009, 59:3. 2014, 9:1, eff. July 13, 2014.

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solemnization of marriage

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§ 457:4Marriageable.

No person below the age of 16 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void.

1907, 80:1. PL 286:4. RL 338:4. 2009, 59:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2010. 2018, 272:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2019.


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§ 457:5Of Consent.

The age of consent shall be in the male and in the female, 18 years. Any marriage contracted by a person below the age of consent, except as hereinafter provided, may in the discretion of the superior court be annulled at the suit of the party who at the time of contracting such marriage was below the age of consent, or at the suit of his or her parent or guardian, unless such party after arriving at such age shall have confirmed the marriage.

1907, 80:2. 1923, 108:1. PL 286:5. RL 338:5. RSA 457:5. 1973, 72:35, eff. June 3, 1973.


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§ 457:37Affirmation Of Freedom Of Religion In Marriage.

Each religious organization, association, or society has exclusive control over its own religious doctrine, policy, teachings, and beliefs regarding who may marry within their faith. I. Members of the clergy as described in RSA 457:31 or other persons otherwise authorized under law to solemnize a marriage shall not be obligated or otherwise required by law to officiate at any particular civil marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right to free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by part I, article 5 of the New Hampshire constitution. II. No religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, shall be required to participate in a ceremony solemnizing marriage in violation of the religious beliefs of such organization, association, or society. III. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association, or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual if such request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage, the celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious counseling, programs, courses, retreats, or housing designated for married individuals, and such solemnization, celebration, or promotion of marriage is in violation of his or her religious beliefs and faith. Any refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges in accordance with this section shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state action to penalize or withhold benefits from such religious organization, association, or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society. IV. The marriage laws of this state shall not be construed to affect the ability of a fraternal benefit society to determine the admission of members pursuant to RSA 418:5, and shall not require a fraternal benefit society that has been established and is operating for charitable or educational purposes and which is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization to provide insurance benefits to any person if to do so would violate the fraternal benefit society's free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and part I, article 5 of the New Hampshire constitution. V. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions provided to religious organizations under RSA 354-A:18.

RS 147:8. CS 156:8. 1854, 1518:4. GS 161:7. GL 180:7. PS 174:13. PL 286:34. 1927, 45:1. RL 338:37. RSA 457:37. 1992, 243:2. 2009, 60:7, eff. Jan. 1, 2010 at 12:01. a.m.; 61:1, 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.


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§ 457:5-aPetition For Annulment; Orders By Court.

In the event a petition for annulment is filed by the parent or guardian of a minor, as provided in RSA 457:5, the superior court is hereby authorized to make such orders as in the discretion of the court will protect the interest of the minor child, including but not limited to orders directing the minor child to return to its parents or guardian and such orders may be issued ex parte. The party against whom the orders are issued may file a written request with the clerk of the superior court and request a hearing thereon. Such a hearing shall be held no later than 5 days after the request is received by the clerk. The request shall be filed with the clerk of court for the county in which the petition of annulment is filed.

1969, 375:1, eff. Aug. 31, 1969.


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§ 457:32Special Commission.

The secretary of state may issue a special license to an ordained or non-ordained minister residing out of the state, or to an individual residing out of state who is authorized or licensed by law to perform marriages in such individual's state of residence, authorizing him or her in a special case to marry a couple within the state. In the case of an individual residing out of state who is authorized or licensed by law to perform marriages in such individual's state of residence, the secretary of state may require the submission of a copy of a valid commission or other indicia of authority to marry in the individual's state of residence as proof of existence of that authority. The names and residences of the couple proposed to be married in such special case shall be stated in the license, and no power shall be conferred to marry any other parties than those named therein. The fee for such license shall be $25. The secretary of state shall keep a permanent record of all such special licenses, which record shall contain the names and residences of the couple to be married and the name and residence of the minister to whom the license is issued.

RS 147:6. CS 156:6. 1861, 2484:1. GS 161:9. 1877, 57:1. GL 180:9. PS 174:8. 1919, 56:1. 1921, 79:1. 1925, 27:1. PL 286:29. RL 338:32. 2000, 75:1. 2003, 319:20, eff. July 1, 2003.


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§ 457:32-bSpecial Marriage Officiant License.

I. The secretary of state may issue a special marriage officiant license, which shall temporarily authorize an individual to solemnize a marriage in this state. Any individual who applies for the special marriage officiant license shall register with the secretary of state, complete the registration form prescribed by the secretary of state, and submit an $85 fee to the department of state. The secretary of state shall forward $80 of the fee to the department of health and human services for deposit in the fund for domestic violence programs, established in RSA 173-B:15, and shall retain the remainder of the fee for administrative costs associated with issuance of the license. II. Upon registration as a special marriage officiant, the individual shall be authorized to solemnize only the civil marriage designated on the registration form and shall receive proof of such authority from the secretary of state. The individual's authority to solemnize the marriage shall expire at the same time as the corresponding license.

2020, 25:6, eff. Sept. 18, 2020.


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§ 457:1Purpose And Intent.

The purpose of this chapter is to affirm the right of 2 individuals desiring to marry and who otherwise meet the eligibility requirements of this chapter to have their marriage solemnized in a religious or civil ceremony in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

RS 147:1. CS 156:1. GS 161:1. 1869, 9:1. GL 180:1. PS 174:1. PL 286:1. RL 338:1. RSA 457:1. 1987, 218:1. 2009, 59:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2010.


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§ 457:3Recognition Of Out Of State Marriages.

Every marriage legally contracted outside the state of New Hampshire, which would not be prohibited under RSA 457:2 if contracted in New Hampshire, shall be recognized as valid in this state for all purposes if or once the contracting parties are or become permanent residents of this state subsequent to such marriage, and the issue of any such marriage shall be legitimate. Marriages legally contracted outside the state of New Hampshire which would be prohibited under RSA 457:2 if contracted in New Hampshire shall not be legally recognized in this state. Any marriage of New Hampshire residents recognized as valid in the state prior to the effective date of this section shall continue to be recognized as valid on or after the effective date of this section. Notwithstanding anything in this statute or the provisions of RSA 457:43 to the contrary, any marriage of a same-sex couple lawfully contracted outside New Hampshire shall be recognized in New Hampshire as of the date of its solemnization.

RS 147:3. CS 156:3. GS 161:3. GL 180:3. PS 174:3. PL 286:3. RL 338:3. RSA 457:3. 1965, 252:1. 1973, 145:6. 2004, 100:1. 2009, 59:1. 2014, 160:1, eff. July 10, 2014.


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§ 457:6Petition By Party Under Age.

I. If the marriage of a person resident in this state, or the marriage of a person who is a nonresident in this state who applies for permission to marry a resident in this state, either person being below the age of consent and above the ages specified in RSA 457:4, is desired, the parties desiring to contract such marriage, with the parent or guardian having the custody of such party below such age, if there be such parent or guardian, may apply in writing to the judicial branch family division having jurisdiction in the location in which one of them resides, for permission to contract such marriage. II. The petition shall indicate whether, to the knowledge of the petitioner, the department of health and human services, bureau of child protection services has contacted or been involved with the family of the person under the age of consent. III. As part of the decision making process, the court may conduct an in camera interview of each person under the age of consent, without that person's parent or guardian or the other party to the marriage present. IV. Permission to contract such marriage shall be granted only upon clear and convincing evidence that the marriage is in the best interest of the person or persons below the age of consent. V. No permission shall be granted to persons below the age of consent if both parties are nonresidents.

1907, 80:3. PL 286:6. RL 338:6. RSA 457:6. 1965, 121:1. 1967, 319:1. 1987, 218:3. 2011, 177:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2012. 2018, 273:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2019.


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§ 457:29Marriage License Fee.

The fee for the marriage license shall be $50 to be paid by the parties entering into the marriage. The clerk shall forward $43 from each fee to the department of health and human services for the purposes of RSA 173-B:15. The clerk shall retain the remaining $7 as the fee for making the records of notice, issuing the certificate of marriage, and forwarding the $43 portion of the marriage license fee.

RS 147:5. CS 156:5. 1854, 1518:2. GS 161:5. GL 180:5. PS 174:6. 1911, 173:1. PL 286:26. 1929, 54:1. RL 338:29. 1951, 92:1. RSA 457:29. 1973, 335:3. 1981, 223:1. 1989, 277:1. 1992, 289:8. 1993, 149:2. 1999, 240:5. 2010, Sp. Sess., 1:68. 2011, 224:320. 2015, 244:2, eff. July 1, 2015.


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§ 5-C:42Marriage License And Registration.

5-C:42 ::: Marriage License and Registration.

I. A marriage performed in the state of New Hampshire shall be registered when the marriage certificate is filed in accordance with this section and RSA 5-C:41, signed by the clerk of the town or city, and forwarded to the division.

II. An application for a marriage license may be made in any city or town in the state of New Hampshire and the marriage license shall be issued for a marriage ceremony to be performed in any city or town in the state of New Hampshire.

III. No marriage license or court-ordered waiver issued by any other state shall be acceptable for marriage in the state of New Hampshire.

IV. The prospective bride and groom shall appear in person to the clerk of the town or city to file the marriage intentions and to sign the application for the marriage license unless either party or both are members of the armed forces and unable to appear in person.

V. If either party or both is a member of the armed forces and is unable to appear in person, the following shall apply: the armed services' legal representative shall prepare the marriage application worksheet; the completed application worksheet shall be signed by the service person; the armed services' legal representative, company commander or other superior officer, shall sign a statement attesting that the information provided is correct; the service person, if unable to appear, shall submit a signed statement authorizing the non-service person to sign for both the bride and groom; the completed application, and signed release if applicable, shall then be forwarded to the clerk of the town or city who issued the application; when the application worksheet is received by the clerk of the town or city, it shall then be used as an acceptable substitute for the personal appearance of the service person; the license shall then be prepared pursuant to RSA 5-C:41 with the non-service applicant being permitted to sign the license for both the bride and groom; and the application worksheet received from the service person shall be retained permanently by the clerk of the town or city.

V-a. If either party is unable to appear in person for documented medical reasons, the city or town clerk may accommodate the parties by meeting in person with the parties at such other location within the city or town as may be convenient.

VI. One party may initiate the process of applying for a marriage license; however, the license shall not be issued until signatures have been obtained from both parties.

VII. An applicant for a marriage license shall provide positive identification consisting of a certified copy of a birth certificate or a driver's license or a passport or other license or identification that contains a photograph of the applicant and the applicant's name and date of birth.

VIII. When both applicants for a marriage license are nonresidents of New Hampshire, both applicants shall be at least 18 years of age and, in accordance with RSA 457, there shall be no provision for an age waiver if both applicants and his or her parents are nonresidents of New Hampshire.

IX. If either or both parties have been previously married, a certified copy of the final divorce decree or decrees, or a certified copy of the death record of each deceased spouse, shall be reviewed by the clerk of the town or city before the marriage license is issued. The clerk shall make notation upon the marriage license of such review.

X. If a civil annulment is declared as the means of dissolving a former marriage, the clerk of the town or city shall review a certified copy of the civil annulment decree before the marriage license is issued.

XI. A divorce decree in a foreign language shall not be acceptable for presentation as proof of final divorce, unless the divorce decree is translated into English and signed by the translator, with the signature certified by a justice of the peace or notary public. The cost of the translation, if any, shall be the responsibility of the applicant.

XII. If a divorce decree from a foreign country is not available, the applicant shall provide an affidavit stating that he or she was divorced and a statement from the embassy of the foreign country stating that the records are not available.

XIII. After the marriage application worksheet has been prepared and signed by the applicants, a license fee in accordance with RSA 457:29 shall be paid by the applicants to the clerk of the town or city. If the applicants do not use the marriage license for any reason, the fee shall not be refunded.

XIV. The date of the signing of the worksheet by either the bride or groom, or the earlier of 2 dates if applicable, shall be used by the clerk of the town or city to indicate when the intention of marriage was received and recorded and the date to be used to establish the beginning of the time period during which the license shall be valid. The marriage license shall be valid pursuant to RSA 457:26 for not more than 90 days from the date the marriage intentions were filed. When 90 days have elapsed from the date the marriage intentions were filed and a completed marriage certificate or a delayed certificate of marriage has not been processed, the clerk of the town or city shall make a notation on the marriage application worksheet stating the marriage presumably did not take place. In the case where the marriage certificate is received within 6 months of the end of the 90-day period, the clerk of the town or city shall remove the notation and issue the certificate. In the case where the marriage certificate is received more than 6 months after the end of the 90-day period, the clerk of the town or city shall follow the procedure for issuing a delayed certificate of marriage.

2005, 268:1. 2011, 187:2, 3, eff. Aug. 13, 2011.; SB89, Effective 09/2023


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§ 457:1-aEqual Access To Marriage

Marriage is the legally recognized union of 2 people. Any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements of this chapter may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender or race. Each party to a marriage shall be designated "bride,'' "groom,'' or "spouse.''

2009, 59:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2010.; HB240 Ch23 eff. July 2023


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§ 457:2Marriages Prohibited.

No person shall marry his or her father, mother, father's brother, father's sister, mother's brother, mother's sister, son, daughter, brother, sister, son's son, son's daughter, daughter's son, daughter's daughter, brother's son, brother's daughter, sister's son, sister's daughter, father's brother's son, father's brother's daughter, mother's brother's son, mother's brother's daughter, father's sister's son, father's sister's daughter, mother's sister's son, or mother's sister's daughter. No person shall be allowed to be married to more than one person at any given time.

RS 147:2. CS 156:2. GS 161:2. 1869, 9:2. GL 180:2. PS 174:2. PL 286:2. RL 338:2. RSA 457:2. 1965, 46:1. 1987, 218:2. 2009, 59:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2010.


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§ 457:7Granting Of Permission.

I. Such justice or judge shall at once hear the parties, and, if satisfied that it has been shown by clear and convincing evidence that the marriage is in the best interest of the person or persons below the age of consent, shall grant permission therefor, which shall be filed with the court and shall be reported to the division of vital records. The division shall note the fact of the granting of such permission upon the certificate and upon all copies thereof which are by law required to be kept. II. In no circumstance shall a justice or judge grant permission to marry under this section if sexual contact or sexual penetration between the parties would, but for the solemnization of the proposed marriage, constitute sexual assault, felonious sexual assault, or aggravated felonious sexual assault under RSA 632-A.

1907, 80:3. 1917, 79:1. PL 286:7. RL 338:7. 1997, 325:16. 2003, 319:70, eff. July 1, 2003. 2018, 271:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2019 at 12:01 a.m.; 273:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2019.


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§ 457:8Prohibitions.

No town clerk shall issue any certificate for the marriage of any person below the age of consent, and no magistrate or minister of religion shall solemnize the marriage of any such person, if such clerk, magistrate or minister knows or has reasonable cause to believe that such person is below such age, unless permission for such marriage has been given under this subdivision. No magistrate or minister of religion shall solemnize any marriage by proxy.

1907, 80:4. PL 286:8. RL 338:8. RSA 457:8. 1987, 218:4, eff. July 17, 1987.


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§ 457:9Penalty.

Any person violating any of the provisions of RSA 457:8, or any person knowingly making any false statement as to the age of any person, with intent to induce any clerk to issue a certificate for the marriage of any person below the age of consent, or to induce any magistrate or minister of religion to solemnize the marriage of any such person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

1907, 80:5. PL 286:9. RL 338:9. RSA 457:9. 1973, 528:307, eff. Oct. 31, 1973, at 11:59 p.m.


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§ 457:22Completion Of Marriage License Application.

All persons proposing to be joined in marriage within the state shall complete a marriage license application with all facts required by RSA 5-C:41 to be entered in any town clerk's office. The clerk shall record the application in a book to be kept for that purpose.

RS 147:4. CS 156:4. 1854, 1518:1. GS 161:4. GL 180:4. PS 174:5. 1897, 18:1. PL 286:22. RL 338:22. 1949, 98:3. RSA 457:22. 1983, 291:1, I. 1995, 310:181. 1997, 325:18. 2003, 319:71. 2005, 268:10, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.


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§ 457:23Requirements

I. No marriage license shall be issued by any town or city clerk until the applicants have each provided for inspection the following documents: (a) Proof of age; (b) A certified copy of the final divorce decree, if either or both parties are divorced; and (c) A certified copy of the death record of spouse, if either or both parties are widowed. II, III. [Repealed.]

1937, 186:1. RL 338:23. RSA 457:23. 1961, 222:1. 1965, 333:1. 1977, 277:1. 1979, 310:2. 1981, 95:2. 1988, 226:2; 262:6. 1995, 310:181. 2005, 261:6. 2011, 187:5, eff. Aug. 13, 2011.


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§ 457:24Penalty

Any person violating the provisions of RSA 457:23 shall forfeit $60 for each such offense.

1937, 186:1. RL 338:24.


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§ 457:26Marriage License

The town clerk shall deliver to the parties a marriage license embodying the facts required in RSA 457:22, specifying the time when the application was entered, which license shall be delivered to the minister or magistrate who is to officiate, before the marriage is solemnized. The license shall be valid for not more than 90 days from the date of filing.

RS 147:5. CS 156:5. 1854, 1518:2. GS 161:5. GL 180:5. PS 174:6. 1903, 93:1. 1905, 79:1. 1911, 173:1. PL 286:23. 1939, 52:1. RL 338:26. RSA 457:26. 1979, 45:2; 310:3. 1997, 325:19. 2006, 86:1, eff. July 4, 2006.


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§ 457:28Procedure.

The procedure upon such application shall be as provided in RSA 457:7.

PL 286:25. RL 338:28.


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§ 457:28-aBrochures Relative To Family Planning Services, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, And Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

The town clerk shall make available to the public, in the office of the town clerk, a list of family planning agencies and services available in the state, the informational brochure relative to fetal alcohol syndrome prepared pursuant to RSA 132:2, XI, and the informational brochure relative to human immunodeficiency virus prepared pursuant to RSA 141-F:3, XIII. The department of health and human services shall supply each town clerk with a sufficient quantity of the brochures initially, to be resupplied upon the request of the town clerk.

1973, 132:1. 1983, 291:1, I. 2005, 261:3, eff. Sept. 20, 2005.


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§ 457:28-bDestruction Of Records.

The clerk of the superior court and the clerk of the circuit court may destroy petitions by parties under age under RSA 457:6 and related documents after 5 years from the time of filing.

1981, 518:2. 2006, 86:3. 2011, 88:20, eff. July 1, 2011.


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§ 457:31-aSecretary Of State

The secretary of state may issue a license to an unordained clergy who is a resident of this state and who is a member of and engaged in the service of a religious body which is chartered by the state if he or she presents a certification from that body that he or she is in its service. Said license shall authorize the clergy to solemnize marriage in this state. The fee for such license shall be $5.

1969, 435:2. 1975, 81:1. 2006, 86:2, eff. July 4, 2006.


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§ 457:31-bSolemnization Of Marriage; Applicability.

I. Nothing contained in this chapter shall affect the right of Jewish Rabbis residing in this state, or of the people called Friends or Quakers, to solemnize marriages in the way usually practiced among them, and all marriages so solemnized shall be valid. Jewish Rabbis residing out of the state may obtain a special license as provided by RSA 457:32. II. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit a person authorized to solemnize a marriage in a religious ceremony from solemnizing a marriage in a civil ceremony.

2009, 60:6, eff. Jan. 1, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.


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§ 457:32-aJudges Of The United States And The State Of New Hampshire.

I. The secretary of state may issue a special license to marry a couple within this state: (a) To a judge of the United States residing in this state who is appointed pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, to a judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court residing in this state and appointed pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution, or to a United States magistrate judge residing in this state and appointed pursuant to federal law; or (b) To a state supreme court justice, superior court judge, or circuit court judge. II. There shall be a fee of $25 for each such license, and the secretary of state shall maintain a record of all such special licenses issued. A copy of the marriage license of the couple proposed to be married shall be filed with the secretary of state who shall maintain a permanent record of all such marriage licenses and the name and residence of the judge or magistrate performing the ceremony.

1998, 294:2. 2001, 11:2. 2014, 9:2, eff. July 13, 2014.


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§ 457:33Fee For Solemnizing.

The persons joined in marriage by a minister or justice of the peace shall pay the minister or justice a minimum of $5.

RS 147:7. CS 156:7. GS 161:10. GL 180:10. PS 174:9. PL 286:30. RL 338:33. RSA 457:33. 1969, 244:2. 1988, 121:13, eff. Oct. 1, 1988.


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§ 457:34Penalty For Solemnization Without Valid Certificate.

If a minister or justice of the peace shall join any persons in marriage without having first received a certificate of the town clerk, or shall join any persons in marriage with a certificate which he knows to be invalid, he shall forfeit for each offense $60.

RS 147:12. CS 156:9. 1854, 1518:5. GS 161:8. GL 180:8. PS 174:10. PL 286:31. 1939, 52:2. RL 338:34.


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§ 457:36Effect Of Informality.

No marriage solemnized before a person professing to be a justice of the peace or minister of the gospel shall be void, nor shall its validity be affected on account of want of jurisdiction or authority in such supposed justice or minister, or on account of any omission or informality in the certificate of intention of marriage, if the marriage is in other respects lawful and has been consummated with the belief on the part of either of the parties thereto that they were lawfully married.

RS 147:15. CS 156:12. GS 161:13. GL 180:13. PS 174:12. PL 286:33. RL 338:36.


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§ 457:38Certified Copy Of Record.

A copy of the record of a marriage, certified by a city or town clerk or by the registrar of vital records, shall be received in all courts and places as evidence of the fact of the marriage.

RS 147:14. CS 156:11. GS 161:12. GL 180:12. PS 174:14. PL 286:35. RL 338:38. RSA 457:38. 1981, 160:5. 2003, 319:72, eff. July 1, 2003.


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§ 457:39Cohabitation, Etc.

Persons cohabiting and acknowledging each other as husband and wife, and generally reputed to be such, for the period of 3 years, and until the decease of one of them, shall thereafter be deemed to have been legally married.

RS 149:11. CS 158:19. GS 161:16. GL 180:16. PS 174:15. PL 286:36. RL 338:39.


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§ 457:40In Civil Actions.

In all civil actions, except actions for criminal conversation, evidence of acknowledgment, cohabitation, and reputation is competent proof of marriage.

GS 161:17. GL 180:17. PS 174:16. PL 286:37. RL 338:40.


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§ 457:41In Criminal Cases.

In actions for criminal conversation, and in indictments for bigamy and the like, there must be proof of a marriage in fact.

GS 161:18. GL 180:18. PS 174:17. PL 286:38. RL 338:41. 2014, 44:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2015.


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§ 457:42Marriage Of Parents.

Where the parents of children born before marriage afterwards intermarry, and recognize such children as their own, such children shall be legitimate and shall inherit equally with their other children under the statute of distribution.

1860, 2343:1. GS 161:15. GL 180:15. PS 174:18. PL 286:39. RL 338:42.


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§ 457:43Residents.

If any person residing and intending to continue to reside in this state is prohibited from contracting marriage under the laws of this state and goes into another jurisdiction and there contracts a marriage prohibited and declared void by the laws of this state, such marriage shall be null and void for all purposes in this state, with the same effect as though such prohibited marriage had been entered into in this state.

1979, 45:1, eff. June 10, 1979.


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§ 457:44Nonresidents; Recognition Of Same Sex Marriage.

Any marriage of a same-sex couple contracted in this state on or after January 1, 2010 by a party residing or intending to reside in another jurisdiction is valid and legitimate as of the date of its solemnization.

1979, 45:1. 2014, 160:2, eff. July 10, 2014.


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§ 457:45Civil Union Recognition.

A civil union legally contracted outside of New Hampshire, or any legal union other than a marriage that provides substantially the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as a marriage that is legally contracted outside of New Hampshire, shall be recognized as a marriage in this state, and any person in such legal union contracted outside of New Hampshire may also marry the same party in New Hampshire without the dissolution of such legal union, provided that the relationship does not violate the prohibitions of this chapter.

2009, 59:5. 2014, 160:3, eff. July 10, 2014.


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§ 457:46Obtaining Legal Status Of Marriage.

I. Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 457-A, no new civil unions shall be established on or after January 1, 2010. Two consenting persons who are parties to a valid civil union entered into prior to January 1, 2010 pursuant to this chapter may apply and receive a marriage license and have such marriage solemnized pursuant to RSA 457, provided that the parties are otherwise eligible to marry under RSA 457 and the parties to the marriage are the same as the parties to the civil union. Such parties may also apply by January 1, 2011 to the clerk of the town or city in which their civil union is recorded to have their civil union legally designated and recorded as a marriage, without any additional requirements of payment of marriage licensing fees or solemnization contained in RSA 457, provided that such parties' civil union was not previously dissolved or annulled. Upon application, the parties shall be issued a marriage certificate, and such marriage certificate shall be recorded with the division of vital records administration. Any civil union shall be dissolved by operation of law by any marriage of the same parties to each other, as of the date of the marriage stated in the certificate. II. Two persons who are parties to a civil union established pursuant to RSA 457-A that has not been dissolved or annulled by the parties or merged into a marriage in accordance with paragraph I by January 1, 2011 shall be deemed to be married under this chapter on January 1, 2011 and such civil union shall be merged into such marriage by operation of law on January 1, 2011.

2009, 59:5, eff. Jan. 1, 2010; 61:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.


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§ 5-C:46 Marriage Of Step Children And Adopted Children.

5-C:46 Marriage of Step-Children and Adopted Children. ::: I. The division shall issue a marriage certificate for step-siblings in a family if the natural parents of each child had no biological connection to each other closer than cousin. II. The division shall issue a marriage certificate to an adopted brother and an adopted sister in the same family, unless they are also related biologically as specified in RSA 457:2.

2005, 268:1. 2009, 59:8, eff. Jan. 1, 2010.


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§ 5-C:51 Certificate Of Remarriage.

5-C:51 Certificate of Remarriage. ::: I. A marriage certificate shall not be issued to parties who are already lawfully married to each other except as provided in RSA 5-C:50. This shall also include issuing a marriage certificate for the renewal of marriage vows for religious or anniversary purposes. II. In the case where the state registrar receives an affidavit challenging the legality of a marriage certificate, the state registrar shall send a certified letter to the married couple advising them that an allegation of violation of RSA 457 has been made that causes the legality of their marriage certificate to be subject to challenge and therefore might void the marriage certificate and advising them of the information necessary to respond to the alleged violation of RSA 457. III. The state registrar shall send a copy of the certified letter described in paragraph II to the clerk of the town or city who issued the marriage license and to the officiant. IV. The validity of a marriage certificate shall not be affected because of lack of legal authority or jurisdiction on the part of the officiant or as otherwise stated in RSA 457:36. V. If the correction of an alleged violation requires another marriage ceremony to be conducted in conformance with New Hampshire statutes, it shall not be necessary for the clerk of the town or city to issue a new certificate. VI. If another marriage ceremony is necessary in accordance with paragraph V, the date of marriage shall be noted on the marriage certificate as the date the original marriage ceremony took place or, if the alleged violation is due to lack of conformance to a statutory time limit, the date shall be the date of the second marriage ceremony. VII. When a second marriage ceremony has taken place, the officiant shall notify the clerk of the town or city in writing. VIII. Certified copies of the marriage certificate issued after the alleged violation of RSA 457 has been corrected shall not make reference in any way to the alleged violation. IX. If the alleged violation is not corrected, all certified copies issued of such marriage record shall include a notation of the alleged violation. X. If false information is provided pursuant to RSA 639:1 or RSA 5-C:14, the state registrar shall report such an offense to the county attorney where the event occurred. XI. When a second marriage ceremony has taken place, the clerk of the town or city shall make an appropriate notation on the face of the local certificate as described in paragraphs VI and VIII. XII. The appropriate form shall be sent in accordance with RSA 5-C:85 to the state registrar to update the vital record.

2005, 268:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.


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§ 5-C:43Distribution Of The Marriage License.

5-C:43 Distribution of the Marriage License ::: After the clerk of a town or city has forwarded the completed marriage license to the division, the registrar shall give the original to the prospective bride and groom. A marriage license may be mailed to the bride or groom if mailed via certified mail with return receipt requested and the cost for the certified mail handling shall be paid by the applicants. The bride and groom shall provide the marriage license to the officiant prior to the marriage ceremony.

2005, 268:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.


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§ 5-C:44Offshore Marriages

5-C:44 Offshore Marriages ::: I. A marriage license for an offshore marriage ceremony shall be obtained from the clerk of any town or city and certified only if the marriage ceremony was performed on the ocean off the New Hampshire coast within 3 miles of the shoreline, in the air anywhere over the state of New Hampshire, or, aboard ship on a lake in the state of New Hampshire. II. The marriage ceremony for an offshore marriage shall be performed by an officiant identified in RSA 457:31 and the city or town of departure shall be the city or town of occurrence of the marriage.

2005, 268:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.


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§ 5-C:45Marriage Of Minors.

5-C:45 Marriage of Minors. ::: In accordance with RSA 457:4, a person may apply for a marriage license before reaching the age of consent, but the marriage license shall not be issued until both parties have reached the age of consent or age waivers have been obtained pursuant to RSA 457:6. All waivers due to age shall be obtained before the marriage and attached to the marriage application worksheet. If a waiver is not obtained, the clerk of the town or city or the division shall void the marriage certificate pursuant to RSA 457:4 and prepare and submit to the division the appropriate form to amend the vital record in accordance with RSA 5-C:85.

005, 268:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.


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§ 5-C:47 Marriage Of Prisoners.

5-C:47 Marriage of Prisoners. ::: If an inmate of a state prison or county jail receives permission from prison or jail officials to marry while still an inmate, the city or town in which the institution is located shall be considered as the residence of the inmate but the marriage license may be obtained from the clerk of any town or city in the state of New Hampshire.

2005, 268:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.


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§ 5-C:49Officiant Responsibilities.

5-C:49 Officiant Responsibilities. ::: I. The person who performs a marriage shall certify the fact of marriage and within 6 days return the record by mail or in person to the clerk of the town or city of license issuance. II. No person shall certify or sign the marriage certificate as the officiant at his or her own marriage ceremony. III. An ordained deacon in the Roman Catholic Church shall be in the category of a "minister of the gospel in the state who has been ordained according to the usage of his denomination," pursuant to RSA 457:31, and be empowered to sign the marriage certificate in the state of New Hampshire with the same authority as an ordained priest of the Roman Catholic faith. IV. Any out-of-state minister who wishes to perform a marriage in the state of New Hampshire shall obtain a special license from the secretary of state as required by RSA 457:32. V. In the event a special license is not obtained by an out-of-state officiant, the division shall notify the officiant by written letter to pursue a special license or be subject to prosecution in accordance with RSA 457:35. The division shall recognize the marriage certificate in such cases as valid under the provisions of RSA 457:36. VI. In accordance with paragraph I, the officiant shall report the fact that a marriage has taken place, even if the bride and groom have a change of mind after the ceremony and ask the officiant not to report the marriage to the clerk of the town or city. The date of the marriage shall be the date that the ceremony took place. VII. Failure of the officiant to report a marriage shall be a violation.

2005, 268:1. 2006, 141:10, eff. July 21, 2006.


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§ 5-C:52 Delayed Certificate Of Marriage.

5-C:52 Delayed Certificate of Marriage. ::: I. The registration of a marriage after 6 months from the actual date of the marriage shall be accomplished using a regular certificate of marriage, completed in accordance with RSA 5-C:42. II. Registration of marriage pursuant to paragraph I requires that an application for a delayed certificate of marriage be initiated by the bride, groom, or their legal representative with the clerk of the town or city where the marriage license was allegedly issued. To be acceptable for registration by the state registrar, the delayed certificate of marriage shall be supported by a copy of the marriage worksheet application, if available, obtained from the clerk of the town or city where the intentions were filed and at least 2 of the following: (a) An affidavit from the officiant, if obtainable, stating that he or she had officiated at the wedding in question. (b) A copy of the marriage certificate signed by the officiant and given to the married couple after the alleged ceremony. (c) One or more copies of newspaper accounts of the wedding in question. (d) A copy of a city or town report showing that the marriage in question was listed therein. (e) A certified copy of a divorce decree dissolving the marriage in question. (f) Pictures of the wedding ceremony accompanied by a notarized affidavit by, but not limited to, the best man, maid of honor, mother or father of the bride or groom, or bridesmaids, testifying to the persons shown in the pictures. (g) Notarized affidavits from other members of the wedding party including participants and witnesses. (h) A census bureau report on the applicant's household demonstrating marital status. III. When evidence as cited in paragraph II is presented to the clerk of the town or city, he or she shall initiate preparation of a new marriage certificate. The marriage certificate shall be a replica of the original when possible, showing all dates and related information, and signatures of the bride and groom shall be obtained by the clerk of the town or city on the new marriage record.

2005, 268:1. 2011, 187:4, eff. Aug. 13, 2011.


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§ 5-C:50Remarriage Permitted.

5-C:50 Remarriage Permitted. ::: The clerk of the town or city shall refer to the state registrar all requests for a marriage license made by parties who are currently married but the validity of the marriage is questioned by the court, law enforcement agencies or the state registrars outside of New Hampshire. If the validity of a marriage is questioned, the clerk of the town or city shall obtain from the licensees any documentation of their current marriage, including, but not limited to, a copy of a marriage license or the certified copy of a final divorce decree, and forward all the information to the division for a review by the state registrar. If a review of the documentation provides sufficient evidence that the marriage in question is subject to challenge, the state registrar shall notify in writing the married couple and the clerk of the town or city. The couple may petition the court for a review of the legal status of the marriage or the couple may initiate the application for a marriage license.

2005, 268:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006.


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§ 5-C:41 Marriage Registration Forms.

5-C:41 Marriage Registration Forms. ::: I. There shall be 2 forms for the completion of a marriage registration. The marriage application worksheet, which shall be the form that is used to record marriage intentions, shall be completed by the prospective bride and groom and the clerk of the town or city and shall contain the information needed to complete the marriage license. The marriage license, which shall be the form that is used to record that the marriage ceremony has taken place and to record who solemnized the marriage, shall be completed by the bride, groom, the officiant and the clerk of the town or city in accordance with this section and RSA 5-C:42. The marriage license shall be the official copy of the certificate of marriage when the marriage is registered with the division. II. The marriage application worksheet shall be completed by the prospective bride and groom in the office of the clerk of the town or city. The information supplied by the groom shall include his full name; his usual residence by street and number, city, town or location, county and state; his birthplace; his date of birth; his social security number; his father's full name; his father's birthplace; his mother's maiden name; and his mother's birthplace. The information supplied by the bride shall include her full name and maiden surname, if different; her usual residence by street and number, city, town or location, county and state; her birthplace; her date of birth; her social security number; her father's full name; her father's birthplace; her mother's maiden name; and, her mother's birthplace. II-a. (a) Upon entering into marriage, either party may retain his or her surname prior to the marriage or change his or her surname to the surname of the other party or change the surname to a hyphenated combination of the full surnames of both parties. If a party requests a surname change under this paragraph, that party may also change his or her middle name to his or her surname prior to the marriage. Each party shall indicate on the marriage application worksheet the party's name after marriage. (b) Provided that the change is not made for a fraudulent criminal or wrongful purpose, the name of each party after marriage as indicated on the marriage application worksheet and marriage license shall become the sole legal name of each party after marriage. If a party indicates a name change other than as described in subparagraph (a), the party shall request approval of the court. III. The clerk of the town or city shall complete the following statistical and legal information on the marriage application worksheet for both the bride and groom with information supplied by the bride and groom: the number which represents of the currently intended marriage; if previously married, whether a civil annulment occurred or the marriage ended by death or divorce; the date of civil annulment or that the last marriage ended; their race and ancestry; their level of education; any waivers presented by the groom or the bride, either for time or age pursuant to RSA 457:4 through RSA 457:9 or RSA 457:26 and RSA 457:27; whether proof of age of the bride and groom was demonstrated using identification with photograph; if applicable, the divorce decree; and, if applicable, the death record of the former spouse. IV. The bride and groom shall record the following on the marriage application worksheet after the clerk of the town or city completes information on the application worksheet as described in paragraph III: the date and the city or town where the marriage is intended to take place, if known; the name and address of the officiant for the marriage ceremony, if known; the groom's mailing address and phone number; the bride's mailing address and phone number; the groom's signature and date signed; the bride's signature and date signed; and certification that the information provided is correct to the best of his or her knowledge and belief and that he or she is free to marry under the laws of New Hampshire. V. Once all of the information on the marriage application worksheet has been obtained, the clerk of the town or city shall transfer the information as listed in paragraphs II and III from the marriage application worksheet to the marriage license as well as record the following information on the marriage license: the date that the marriage license is issued, the signature of the clerk, and the name of the city or town of issuance. VI. Pursuant to RSA 457:26, the date that the marriage license is issued shall be not more than 90 days from the date that marriage intentions were filed. VII. Upon request of the groom, the name of a legal guardian shall be substituted on the marriage license for a natural parent's name, regardless of whether the groom who makes the request is of legal age at the time when intentions are being filed. VIII. Upon request of the bride, the name of a legal guardian shall be substituted on the marriage license for a natural parent's name, regardless of whether the bride who makes the request is of legal age at the time when intentions are being filed. IX. The substitution of stepparents' names shall not be permitted. X. Persons entering dates on the marriage license shall use the full or abbreviated name of the month rather than numerals. XI. When listing the birthplace on the marriage license, if the person is known to have been born in the United States, but the state is unknown then "U.S.-Unknown" shall be entered, and, if the person is known to have been born in a foreign country, but the country is unknown, "Foreign Unknown" shall be entered. XII. If no information is available regarding place of birth, "Unknown" shall be entered. XIII. The prospective bride and groom shall review the information on the marriage license for completeness and accuracy prior to signing the marriage license. XIV. If a prospective bride or groom are not of legal age to marry, the co-signature of his or her parent shall be obtained, except when a court has issued a waiver authorizing the marriage in accordance with RSA 457:6. XV. The officiant shall record the following on the marriage license after the marriage ceremony has taken place: certification that he or she is duly authorized to solemnize the marriage in accordance with RSA 457; the officiant's status, pursuant to RSA 457:31; the date of the marriage ceremony; the city, town or location and county where the couple were married; certification that the bride and groom were married by the officiant in conformance with RSA 457 and that the information noted is correct to the best of his or her knowledge; the signature of the officiant; the officiant's typed or printed name; the officiant's title and address; and an indication of whether the ceremony was religious or civil. XVI. The date the marriage license is received by the clerk of the town or city from the officiant shall be recorded on the marriage certificate as the date the marriage registration is filed. XVII. The marriage license shall include the signature of the clerk of the town or city and the name of the town or city.

2005, 268:1. 2011, 187:1, eff. Aug. 13, 2011. 2014, 69:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2015.


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