Proxy Marriages

A proxy marriage is a marriage where the parties were not physically present in the presence of each other. Someone stands in for the other party because either the bride or the groom is not physically present for the wedding. During the solemnization of the marriage, based upon a power of attorney, an agent acts on behalf of one of the parties. The marriage is presumed valid if it is valid in the country that performs the ceremony.

Marriage by proxy, with only one party to the marriage making an appearance, is possible in the United States. It is always necessary for one of the two parties (either husband or wife) to actually appear before the Civil Authorities.

Written Authorization for Third Person to Act as Proxy

If a party to a marriage is unable to be present at the solemnization, that party may authorize in writing a third person to act as his proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is satisfied that the absent party is unable to be present and has consented to the marriage, he or she may solemnize the marriage by proxy. If he or she is not satisfied, the parties may petition the court for an order permitting the marriage to be solemnized by proxy.

Proxy Marriages Allowed in Four States

Marriage by proxy has been around a long time. Proxy marriages are most common during wartime. Marriages by proxy are allowed in California, Colorado, Texas, and Montana.

Legal Recognition

Whether a state or country will recognize a marriage by proxy seems to depend on whether or not the law of the locale requires that both parties be present to apply for a license or to give their consent at the ceremony. Some states recognize a proxy marriage that was done in another state. Other states only recognize them as common-law marriage. U.S. military personnel may annul a proxy marriage provided there is no consummation, no cohabitation, or no treatment as husband and wife after the marriage ceremony.

Immigration Concerns

Unconsummated proxy marriages are not recognized for immigration purposes in most countries, including the United States. However, a party of an unconsummated proxy marriage may enjoy immigration benefits as a fiance of the opposite party is a U.S. citizen.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.