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Marriage licenses to be issued more quickly

September 29, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Beginning Friday, getting a marriage license in Washington County will be easier, as long as both the bride and groom are at least 15 years old.

No one under age 15 can get married in Maryland for any reason, said Dennis Weaver, clerk of the Washington County Circuit Court.

It used to be that pregnancy, actual parenthood and consent of a parent of the underage party could result in the issuance of a marriage license in Maryland, Weaver said.

That ends Friday.

For those 15 and older, the process of getting a marriage license will become a one-visit rather than a two-visit process.

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"The Maryland Circuit Court Association introduced legislation last year to make the system more customer friendly," Weaver said.

Couples, especially those who live out of town, complained that they had to take two days off work to fulfill the two visits required previously, Weaver said.

"Effective Friday, couples can get their licenses immediately," Weaver said. The license becomes effective two calendar days later at 6 a.m.

A couple getting a license on a Thursday would be able to tie the knot on Saturday as long as the ceremony was not before 6 a.m.

The cost remains $60, Weaver said.

The clerk's office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Computerization is simplifying the system, Weaver said. The license information entered into a computer will produce a printout that the couple signs and that's that, Weaver said.

For couples who want to have the ceremony at the courthouse, the license will be held for them until the wedding service.

Land records will be modernized within the next year, with plats and other land records to be accessible to the general public by computer, Weaver said.

"Starting in October, people will be able to make their own copies of book records such as marriages, divorces, military discharges, etc.," Weaver said.

Case files such as criminal and civil court proceedings will be exempt from this procedure, he said.

Weaver said computers will be available throughout the clerk's office for public use. Debit cards will be issued and used to bill for the copies at the rate of 25 cents a page - half of the current 50-cent charge when a clerk has to make the copies.

All of the improvements are being paid for with fees being charged for services rendered, Weaver said.

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