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  Rhode Island Marriage Laws

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1. Get Ordained- View information about what World Christianship Ministries offers and our brief application. Click Blue Apply Now Button below.

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Rhode Island Marriage Laws - Who can do Marriages




§ 15-3-5  Officials empowered to join persons in marriage.

Every ordained clergy or elder in good standing; every justice of the supreme court, superior court, family court, workers' compensation court, district court or traffic tribunal; the clerk of the supreme court; every clerk, administrative clerk, or general chief clerk of a superior court, family court, district court, or traffic tribunal; magistrates, special or general magistrates of the superior court, family court, traffic tribunal or district court; administrative clerks of the district court; administrators of the workers' compensation court; every former justice or judge and former administrator of these courts; every former chief clerk of the district court; every former clerk, administrative clerk, or general chief clerk of a superior court; the secretary of the senate; elected clerks of the general assembly;, any former secretary of the senate; any former elected clerk of the general assembly who retires after July 1, 2007; judges of the United States appointed pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution; bankruptcy judges appointed pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution; and United States magistrate judges appointed pursuant to federal law, may join persons in marriage in any city or town in this state; and every justice and every former justice of the municipal courts of the cities and towns in this state and of the police court of the town of Johnston and the administrator of the Johnston municipal court, while he or she is serving as an administrator, and every probate judge and every former probate judge may join persons in marriage in any city or town in this state, and wardens of the town of New Shoreham may join persons in marriage in New Shoreham.






Other Laws, Codes & Statutes in Rhode Island


  • 15-1-1 Men forbidden to marry kindred

    No man shall marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, stepmother, grandfather's wife, son's wife, son's son's wife, daughter's son's wife, wife's mother, wife's grandmother, wife's daughter, wife's son's daughter, wife's daughter's daughter, sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister, or mother's sister.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-1: Persons Eligible to Marry (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 1; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 5-1-1.)

  • 15-1-2 Women forbidden to marry kindred

    No woman shall marry her father, grandfather, son, son's son, daughter's son, stepfather, grandmother's husband, daughter's husband, son's daughter's husband, daughter's daughter's husband, husband's father, husband's grandfather, husband's son, husband's son's son, husband's daughter's son, brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother, or mother's brother.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-1: Persons Eligible to Marry (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 2; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 2; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 2; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 2; G.L. 1956, § 15-1-2.)

  • 15-1-3 Incestuous marriages void

    If any man or woman intermarries within the degrees stated in § 15-1-1 or § 15-1-2, the marriage shall be null and void.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-1: Persons Eligible to Marry (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 3; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 3; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 3; impl. am. G.L. 1923, ch. 107, § 13; P.L. 1926, ch. 843, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 3; G.L. 1956, § 15-1-3.)

  • 15-1-4 Marriages of kindred allowed by Jewish religion

    The provisions of §§ 15-1-1 ? 15-1-3 shall not extend to, or in any way affect, any marriage which shall be solemnized among the Jewish people, within the degrees of affinity or consanguinity allowed by their religion.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-1: Persons Eligible to Marry (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 4; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 4; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 4; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 4; G.L. 1956, § 5-1-4.)

  • 15-1-5 Bigamous marriages void ? Marriage of persons who are mentally incompetent

    Any marriage, when either of the parties at the time of the marriage has a former wife or husband living who has not been, by final decree, divorced from that party, and any marriage where either of the parties is mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage, shall be absolutely void, and no life estate created by chapter 25 of title 33 shall be assigned to any widow in consequence of the marriage.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-1: Persons Eligible to Marry (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 5; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 5; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 5; P.L. 1927, ch. 1066, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 5; G.L. 1956, § 15-1-5; P.L. 1999, ch. 83, § 19; P.L. 1999, ch. 130, § 19.)

  • 15-1-6 Declaration of validity of marriage by divorced person

    Any marriage, which may have been deemed and held void because a former wife or husband of either of the parties to the marriage, divorced from the party by final decree, was living at the time of the marriage, may be declared valid and binding upon the parties by decree of the family court, if the marriage was in all other respects lawful. The decree may be entered at the discretion of the court upon the petition of either party to the marriage, or of any of the issue of the marriage, and after a hearing and notice to all persons known to have an interest in the marriage as the court may deem necessary, and the decree may declare that the issue of the marriage shall be deemed legitimate and that the widow of any party to the marriage shall be entitled to her life estate created by chapter 25 of title 33.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-1: Persons Eligible to Marry (G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 5; P.L. 1927, ch. 1066, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 5; G.L. 1956, § 15-1-6; impl. am. P.L. 1961, ch. 73, § 14.)

  • 15-2-1 License required ? Proof of divorce

    (a) Persons intending to be joined together in marriage in this state must first obtain a license from the clerk of the town or city in which:

    (1) The female party to the proposed marriage resides; or in the city or town in which

    (2) The male party resides, if the female party is a nonresident of this state; or in the city or town in which

    (3) The proposed marriage is to be performed, if both parties are nonresidents of this state.

    (b) Before any license shall be issued to any person who, having been previously married, has been divorced, the person shall present to the town or city clerk an authenticated copy of the decree granting the divorce.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 10; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 10; P.L. 1909, ch. 430, § 1; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 10; P.L. 1927, ch. 1064, § 1; P.L. 1938, ch. 2580, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 10; G.L. 1956, § 15-2-1; P.L. 1961, ch. 100, § 1; P.L. 1975, ch. 112, § 1.)

  • 15-2-1.1 Statewide electronic marriage license system

    Notwithstanding the provisions of § 15-2-1, at such time as the director of health adopts and implements a statewide electronic marriage license issuance and record registration system, the license may be obtained from the clerk in any city or town.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (P.L. 2004, ch. 200, § 3; P.L. 2004, ch. 258, § 3.)

  • 15-2-3.1 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome warning law

    With each marriage license, the town or city clerk shall provide information describing the causes and effects of fetal alcohol syndrome.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (P.L. 1988, ch. 624, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 200, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 258, § 1.)

  • 15-2-7 Form and contents of certificates, reports, and other returns

    The forms of certificates, reports, and other returns required by this chapter, or by regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter, shall include as a minimum the items recommended by the federal agency responsible for national vital statistics, subject to approval of and modification by the state director of health. Both the bride and groom shall subscribe to the truth of data in the application in the presence of the local registrar or his or her assistant.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 10; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 10; P.L. 1909, ch. 430, § 1; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 10; P.L. 1927, ch. 1064, § 1; P.L. 1938, ch. 2580, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 10; G.L. 1956, § 15-2-7; R.P.L. 1957, ch. 65, § 1; P.L. 1967, ch. 192, § 1.)

  • 15-2-8 Period of validity of license ? Return if unused

    The license required by § 15-2-1 shall be valid for three (3) months after the date of issue, and if unused at the expiration of the three (3) months, the party or parties having possession of the license shall immediately return it to the town or city clerk from whom it was obtained.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 10; P.L. 1927, ch. 1064, § 1; P.L. 1938, ch. 2580, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 10; G.L. 1956, § 15-2-8.)

  • 15-2-9 License fee ? Presentation of license to person performing ceremony

    For issuing the license the town or city clerk shall collect a fee of fourteen dollars ($14.00). The license shall be presented to the minister, elder, justice, warden, or other person who performs the marriage ceremony. The city or town shall retain six dollars ($6.00) of the fourteen dollars ($14.00) for its own use and in lieu of any reimbursement to which it may be entitled pursuant to § 45-13-7. The city or town shall forward the eight dollars ($8.00) balance of the fourteen dollars ($14.00) to the general treasurer of the state of Rhode Island.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 10; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 10; P.L. 1909, ch. 430, § 1; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 10; P.L. 1927, ch. 1064, § 1; P.L. 1938, ch. 2580, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 10; G.L. 1956, § 15-2-9; P.L. 1961, ch. 100, § 1; P.L. 1971, ch. 230, § 1; P.L. 1981, ch. 414, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 65, art. 59, § 1.)

  • 15-2-9.1 Additional fee for family and children trust fund

    For each license the town or city clerk shall charge and receive an additional fee of ten dollars ($10.00), of which he or she shall retain two dollars ($2.00) and shall transmit eight dollars ($8.00) to the general treasurer for deposit to the credit of the family and children trust fund created by § 42-72-30. Each clerk shall keep an accurate account of all fees charged and received under this section and shall transmit all sums due to the general treasurer at least monthly in the manner and with the forms which the general treasurer shall prescribe.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (P.L. 1983, ch. 220, § 2.)

  • 15-2-11 Consent and procedure required for license to minors and persons under guardianship

    (a) No minor or person under the control of a parent or guardian shall be allowed to give and subscribe to the information provided for in §§ 15-2-1 ? 15-2-10, or shall receive the license provided for in these sections, unless the consent in writing of the parent or guardian, given in the presence of the town or city clerk or any clerk employed in that office, has first been obtained; provided, that proof shall be submitted that the minor, if a female, has attained the age of sixteen (16) years; and provided, that this information may be given and subscribed to by a minor, if a female, who has attained the age of sixteen (16) years, residing in this state upon the consent in writing of the director of public welfare of the town or city in which the minor resides, given in the presence of the town or city clerk or any clerk employed in that office.

    (b) In addition to the requirements in subsection (a) of this section, no license shall be issued to any minor, if a female under the age of sixteen (16) years, and if a male under the age of eighteen (18) years, unless and until the following requirements have been complied with, and the town or city clerk is directed in writing to issue the license by the family court:

    (1) The town or city clerk, upon receiving information provided for in §§ 15-2-1 ? 15-2-10, shall immediately transmit a certified copy of the information to the family court. The court shall immediately transmit a copy of the information, together with a written request for a complete investigation of and a report upon the advisability of the issuance of the license, to the department of human services. The department shall within fifteen (15) days after the receipt of the information, the request, and the report file in the court its complete report in writing.

    (2) The court shall then conduct a hearing in chambers to determine the advisability of the issuance of the license and shall notify the town or city clerk of its determination. The court shall have the power to summon at the hearing any persons that it may deem advisable.

    (3) The court shall also file the report and a notation of its determination in the office of the clerk of the court, but any papers filed at the office of the clerk shall not be matters of public record and may be examined only upon the written authorization of the court.

    (4) During the pendency of the proceedings, the court shall exercise the authority of a guardian in respect to the minor or minors involved.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 11; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 11; P.L. 1909, ch. 430, § 1; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 11; P.L. 1937, ch. 2504, § 1; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 11; impl. am. P.L. 1939, ch. 660, § 80; P.L. 1944, ch. 1441, § 36; G.L. 1956, § 15-2-11; impl. am. P.L. 1961, ch. 73, § 14; P.L. 1988, ch. 84, § 63; P.L. 2004, ch. 6, § 41.)

  • 15-2-12 Recording of license information

    The several town and city clerks shall record, in separate books to be kept by them for that purpose, the information furnished to them and subscribed to as provided in §§ 15-2-1 ? 15-2-10, except as otherwise provided in these sections.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 14; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 14; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 14; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 14; G.L. 1956, § 15-2-12.)

  • 15-2-13 Registrar in city of Providence

    In the city of Providence, the registrar of births, deaths, and marriages shall perform the duties devolved upon town and city clerks by the provisions of chapters 2 and 3 of this title, and all information provided by chapters 2 and 3 to be furnished to town and city clerks shall be furnished to the registrar in Providence.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-2: Marriage License (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 15; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 15; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 15; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 15; G.L. 1956, § 15-2-13.)

  • 15-3-6 Marriages after the manner of Friends, according to Jewish rites, or spiritual assembly of Baha'is

    Any marriage which may be had and solemnized among the people called Quakers, or Friends, in the manner and form used or practiced in their societies, or among persons professing the Jewish religion, according to their rites and ceremonies, or by a local spiritual assembly of the Baha'is according to the usage of the religious community, shall be good and valid in law; and wherever the words "minister" and "elder" are used in this chapter, they shall be held to include all of the persons connected with the Society of Friends, or Quakers, and with the Jewish religion, and with the Baha'i faith, who perform or have charge of the marriage ceremony according to their rites and ceremonies.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G. L. 1896, ch. 191, § 9; G. L. 1909, ch. 243, § 9; G. L. 1923, ch. 287, § 9; G. L. 1938, ch. 415, § 9; G. L. 1956, § 15-3-6; P. L. 1970, ch. 72, § 1.)

  • 15-3-7 Presentation of marriage license

    No minister, elder, justice, warden, or other person shall join any person in marriage until the persons to be married have presented to him or her the license named in chapter 2 of this title, and he or she has signed the certificate appended to the license.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 12; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 12; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 12; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 12; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-7.)

  • 15-3-8 Witnesses to ceremony

    The solemnization of marriage shall be in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses besides the minister, elder, justice, or warden officiating.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 17; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 17; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 17; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 17; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-8.)

  • 15-3-9 Statement of objections to marriage

    If any person has any lawful objection to the marriage of any two (2) persons, he or she may state the objection in writing, under his or her hand, to the minister, elder, justice, or warden about to solemnize the marriage, at which time the minister, elder, justice, or warden shall proceed no further in the marriage until the lawful objection has been removed.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 18; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 18; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 18; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 18; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-9.)

  • 15-3-10 Penalty for marriage without license or despite impediment

    Every minister, elder, justice, warden, or other person who joins persons in marriage, without first receiving the license required by chapter 2 of this title, containing the required information, or whenever the solemnization of the marriage has been lawfully objected to and the impediment is not removed, shall be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months or fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 19; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 19; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 19; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 19; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-10.)

  • 15-3-11 Knowingly performing bigamous marriage

    Every person authorized by law to join persons in marriage, who joins in marriage any woman or man that he or she knows to have a husband or wife living, shall be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months or fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 21; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 21; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 21; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 21; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-11.)

  • 15-3-12 Endorsement and return of license

    (a) Every minister, elder, justice, warden, or other person who joins any persons in marriage, shall:

    (b) Endorse the "License and Certificate of Marriage" form, prescribed pursuant to § 15-2-7, presented to him or her by the persons, as provided in § 15-3-7, and certify that the persons have been joined in marriage by him or her in accordance with the laws of the state of Rhode Island; and

    (c) Complete all the information on the "License and Certificate of Marriage" and file the form within seventy-two (72) hours following the date of the marriage with the clerk in the town or city from which the license was issued.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 13; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 13; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 13; P.L. 1927, ch. 1064, § 2; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 13; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-12; P.L. 1961, ch. 100, § 2; P.L. 1969, ch. 89, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 200, § 4; P.L. 2004, ch. 258, § 4.)

  • 15-3-13 Filing of return of marriage

    The town or city clerk to whom the return of marriage provided for in § 15-3-12 is sent shall carefully file and preserve the return.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 16; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 16; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 16; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 16; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-13.)

  • 15-3-14 Neglect of duty by person performing ceremony

    Every minister, elder, justice, warden, or other person authorized to join persons in marriage, including those authorized to join in marriage according to the Jewish religion, who fails to perform any of the duties devolved upon him or her by this chapter, shall be fined not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100) with the exception of the penalties for the violations contained in §§ 15-3-10, 15-3-11, 15-3-15 and 15-3-16.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 20; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 20; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 20; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 20; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-14; P.L. 2004, ch. 6, § 42.)

  • 15-3-15 Marriages valid despite irregularities ? Penalty for marriage without compliance

    (a) No marriage solemnized before a person professing to have a license to join persons in marriage as required by this chapter, or professing to be a justice of the supreme, superior, or family court, or a warden of the town of New Shoreham, or solemnized in the Society of Friends, or among persons professing the Jewish religion or Baha'i faith according to their respective rites and ceremonies, shall be deemed or adjudged to be void, nor shall the validity of the marriage be in any way affected by want of jurisdiction or authority in the person or Society nor by reason of noncompliance with any of the requirements of this chapter, if the marriage is in other respects lawful and has been performed with a full belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been lawfully joined in marriage.

    (b) But whoever gives, or procures to be given, any false information as to the requirements under §§ 15-2-1 ? 15-2-10, or whoever is married without duly proceeding as is required by chapters 1 ? 3 of this title, shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars ($50.00).

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 22; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; C.P.A. 1905, § 1228; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 22; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 22; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 22; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-15; P.L. 1988, ch. 84, § 64.)

  • 15-3-16 Solemnization of marriage without authority

    Every person who solemnizes a marriage without being legally authorized to do so shall be fined five hundred dollars ($500).

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (G.L. 1896, ch. 191, § 23; P.L. 1898, ch. 549, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 243, § 23; G.L. 1923, ch. 287, § 23; G.L. 1938, ch. 415, § 23; G.L. 1956, § 15-3-16.)

  • 15-3-17 Court orders regarding invalid marriages

    If, as the result of a court decision pursuant to chapter 6 of title 11, chapters 1 ? 3 of this title, or chapter 3 of title 23, any marriage which has occurred in Rhode Island is declared invalid, the court shall order the state registrar of vital records to mark "invalid" the original marriage record on file at the division of vital records and to note the invalidity of the marriage on all other files or references to the marriage.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3: Solemnization of Marriage (P.L. 1983, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-1 Definitions

    (1) "Certificate of civil union" means a document that certifies that the persons named on the certificate have established a civil union in compliance with this chapter.

    (2) "Civil union" means a legal union between two individuals of the same sex established pursuant to this chapter.

    (3) "Party to a civil union" means a person who has established a civil union pursuant to this chapter.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-2 Eligibility

    Persons shall be eligible to enter into a civil union only if both such persons are:

    (1) At least eighteen (18) years of age;

    (2) Of the same sex;

    (3) Not a party to another civil union or a spouse in a marriage with any other person;

    (4) Not in a family relationship within the degrees stated in Rhode Island general laws § 15-1-1 or § 15-1-2; and

    (5) Neither person is mentally incompetent at the time of the civil union.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-3 License requirements

    (a) Persons intending to form a civil union in this state must first obtain a license from the town or city in which:

    (1) One of the parties to the civil union resides; or

    (2) In the case of both parties being nonresidents of this state the city or town in which the proposed civil union is to be performed.

    (b) Before any license shall be issued to any person who, having previously been married or been a party in a civil union to someone other than their intended civil union partner, the person shall present to the town or city clerk a certified copy of the decree granting the divorce or dissolving the civil union.

    (c) The license required in: (a) shall be valid for three (3) months after the date of issue, and if unused at the expiration of the three (3) months, the party or parties having the possession of the license shall immediately return it to the town or city clerk from whom it was obtained.

    (d) License fee. For issuing the civil union license the town or city clerk shall collect a fee of twenty-four dollars ($24.00). The city or town shall retain eight dollars ($8.00), and transmit sixteen dollars ($16.00) to the general treasurer of the State of Rhode Island who shall be responsible for depositing eight dollars ($8.00) of the sixteen dollars ($16.00) received into the family and children trust fund created by Rhode Island general laws § 42-72-30. Each clerk shall keep an accurate account of all fees charged and received under this section and shall transmit all sums due to the general treasurer at least monthly in the manner and with the forms which the general treasurer shall prescribe.

    (e) The several town and city clerks shall record, in separate books to be kept by them for that purpose, the information furnished to them and subscribed to as provided in this section. Further, town and city clerks shall treat the civil union certificate as a vital record pursuant to Rhode Island general laws chapter 23-3.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-4 Certification of civil unions

    Officials empowered to certify persons in civil unions:

    (1) Every ordained clergy or elder in good standing, every justice of the supreme court, superior court, family court, workers' compensation court, district court or traffic tribunal, the clerk of the supreme court, every clerk or general chief clerk of a superior court, family court, district court, or traffic tribunal, magistrates, special or general magistrates of the superior court, family court, traffic tribunal or district court, administrative clerks of the district court, administrators of the workers' compensation court, every former justice or judge and former administrator of these courts and every former chief clerk of the district court, and every former clerk or general chief clerk of a superior court, the secretary of the senate, elected clerks of the general assembly, any former secretary of the senate or any former elected clerk of the general assembly who retires after July 1, 2007, judges of the United States appointed pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, bankruptcy judges appointed pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution, and United States magistrate judges appointed pursuant to federal law, may certify a civil union in any city or town in this state; and every justice and every former justice of the municipal courts of the cities and towns in this state and of the police court of the town of Johnston and every probate judge and every former probate judge may certify a civil union in any city or town in this state, and wardens of the town of New Shoreham may certify persons in civil unions in New Shoreham.

    (2) Every certification of a civil union shall be held in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses besides the person officiating the certification and no minister, justice or other authorized person shall perform the civil union certification until the persons to be certified in a civil union have presented him or her the license named in this section.

    (3) Every minister, justice, or other authorized person who certifies any persons in a civil union shall endorse the "License and Certificate of Civil Union" presented to him or her by the persons and certify that the persons were certified in a civil union in accordance with the laws of the State of Rhode Island and the person who certifies the parties in the civil union shall complete all the information on the "License and Certificate of Civil Union" and file the form within ninety- six (96) hours following the date of the civil union certification with the clerk in the town or city from which the license was issued.

    (4) The town or city clerk to whom the civil union certificate is returned shall carefully file and preserve the return.

    (5) If any person has any lawful objection to the civil union of any two (2) persons, he or she may state the objection in writing, under his or her hand, to the minister, justice or other authorized person about to certify the civil union, at which time the minister, justice or other authorized person shall proceed no further in the civil union until the lawful objection has been removed.

    (6) Every minister, justice, or other authorized person who certifies persons in a civil union without first receiving the license required by this chapter containing the required information, or whenever the certification of the civil union has been lawfully objected to and the impediment is not removed, or when the person certifies parties in a civil union that he or she knows to have a husband, wife, or other civil union partner shall be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months or fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).

    (7) No civil union certified before a person professing to have a license or professing to be qualified to certify the civil union shall be deemed or adjudged to be void, nor shall the validity of the civil union be in any way affected by want of jurisdiction or authority in the person by noncompliance with any of the requirements of this chapter, if the civil union is in other respects lawful and has been certified with a full belief on the part of the parties to the civil union, or either of them, that they have lawfully certified in a civil union.

    (8) Every person who certifies a civil union without being legally authorized to do so shall be fined five hundred dollars ($500).

    (9) If, as the result of a court decision, any civil union which has occurred in Rhode Island is declared invalid, the court shall order the state registrar of vital records to mark "invalid" the original civil union record on file at the division of vital records and to note the invalidity of the civil union on all other files or references to the civil union.

    (10) Whoever provides any false information as to the requirements under this chapter, or whoever enters into a civil union without duly proceeding as is required by this chapter, shall be fined not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500).

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-5 Conscience and religious organizations protected

    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no religious or denominational organization, no organization operated for charitable or educational purpose which is supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, and no individual employed by any of the foregoing organizations, while acting in the scope of that employment, shall be required:

    (1) To provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, certification, or celebration of any civil union; or

    (2) To solemnize or certify any civil union; or

    (3) To treat as valid any civil union;

    if such providing, solemnizing, certifying, or treating as valid would cause such organizations or individuals to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

    (b) No organization or individual as described in subsection (a) above who fails or refuses to provide, solemnize, certify, or treat as valid, as described in subdivision (a)(1), (a)(2) or (a)(3) above, persons in a civil union, shall be subject to a fine, penalty, or other cause of action for such failure or refusal.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-6 Benefits, protections, and responsibilities

    A party to a civil union lawfully entered into pursuant to this chapter shall have all the rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative rules, court decisions, the common law, or any other source of civil or criminal law as people joined together pursuant to chapter 15-3.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-7 References and inclusions


    A party to a civil union shall be included in any definition or use of any term that denotes the spousal relationship, whether or not gender specific, as those or related terms designating that relationship are used throughout the laws of the State of Rhode Island.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-8 Reciprocity

    A civil union or registered domestic partnership that extends benefits and responsibilities without the status of marriage and is legally entered into in another jurisdiction shall be recognized in Rhode Island as a civil union; provided, that the relationship meets the eligibility requirements of this chapter.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-9 Dissolution of civil unions

    The family court, as established by Rhode Island general laws § 8-10-3, shall have jurisdiction over all proceedings regarding dissolution of civil unions. In all relevant respects, the dissolution of civil unions shall follow the procedures and be subject to the substantive rights and obligations outlined in chapter 15-5.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

  • 15-3.1-10 Requirement of department of health ? Civil unions

    (a) The department of health, office of vital statistics shall draft and distribute applications for civil unions to every town and city within the state.

    State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)

15-3.1-11 Severability

If any part of this chapter or its application to any person or circumstance is adjudged invalid, the adjudication or application shall not affect the validity of this act as a whole or any other part.

State of Rhode Island General Laws - Title 15: Domestic Relations - Chapter 15-3.1 : Civil Unions (P.L. 2011, ch. 198, § 1.)


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