- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s five-day wait for a marriage license, a law which dates back to the Great Depression, could soon be a thing of the past.

The state is only one of two that make couples wait so long between applying for a license and receiving one. The only way to avoid the wait in Minnesota is to get a judge to sign a waiver.

Hennepin County auditor and treasurer Mark Chapin said the law first appeared in Minnesota in 1931, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/1VEPpsN ) reported.

“During the Great Depression, there was a lot of concern about whether people could support each other and support their children,” Chapin said. The wait may have given the engaged enough pause to confirm that support.

Supporters of the change contend the five-day wait is inconvenient for couples, counties and the judiciary. They point out that it doesn’t take counties five days to prepare the license, and that the waiting period means couples either return to the licensing office five days later to pick up their marriage license or have it mailed to them, which requires extra staff time.

“We believe the waiting period is burdensome,” Chapin told state senators in late March.

Most couples asking for a waiver in Hennepin County did not know about the wait or did not want to wait, Chapin said. The judges always sign off on the waiver.

“We could not find a case where the judge has said, ‘This does not meet the standard that they need,’ ” said Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, the bill’s House sponsor.

Even if Minnesota eliminates the waiting period, couples still would need two witnesses and a judge or a clergy member to actually get married.

House and Senate committees have approved eliminating the wait. It still needs final floor votes before going on to Gov. Mark Dayton.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com


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