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Proxy Marriage -- Where You Can Have a Proxy Marriage

Where You Can Get Married by Proxy

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Angel Island Immigration Station

Period pieces are displayed on a bunk bed in the detention barracks at the Angel Island Immigration Station December 9, 2008 on Angel Island, in California.

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Definition:

A proxy marriage is a marriage where someone stands in for the other party. That is, 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.
 

A double-proxy marriage is a marriage where neither party is present. In the United States, the only state to allow a double-proxy marriage is Montana, though not all Montana counties will allow the proxy marriages.

History:

Marriage by proxy has been around a long time. One of the more famous proxy marriages was in 1810, when Emperor Napoleon married Archduchess Marie Louise by proxy. During the early 1900's, proxy marriages increased significantly when many Japanese picture brides arrived in Angel Island in San Francisco, California. During war time, proxy marriages are more common.
 

The term today, though, is primarily connected to computer servers, annual stock meeting voting, and Munchausen Syndrome.

Where You Can Get Married By Proxy:

Four states in the United States allow proxy marriages in some form:

Most of the proxy marriage laws are limited to members of the armed forces who are deployed for conflicts or wars. Some have residency requirements.

Paraguay: Because of the current restrictive marriage laws, a number of Israeli couples are getting married by proxy or "mail-in" marriage through the consulate of Paraguay in Tel Aviv. According to Israeli law, the Interior Ministry must recognize and register these marriages.

Legal Recognition:

Whether a state or country will recognize a marriage by proxy is a tricky question that 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. Iowa does not recognize proxy marriages.

In Canada, proxy marriage is only recognized if the marriage was performed in a jurisdiction that allows proxy marriage.

In some states, U.S. military personnel may be able to 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.

Important Notice:

Marriages by proxy are not cheap and they are not readily available.

It is advisable that you contact an attorney before getting married by proxy to make sure your marriage will be considered valid.

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