A Florida state senator this week filed a bill that seeks to prevent county governments from issuing marriage licenses to minors.
In Alachua County, people under 18 already cannot get a license without parental consent, but it’s another question related to the topic of marriage on the Clerk of Court’s website that stands out.
“Can I legally marry my nephew?”
“No,” the website reads. “Although the marriage license application does not specifically ask about possible relationship of the parties, Florida law prohibits close blood relations from legally marrying.”
While Alachua County Clerk of Court Jess Irby has never personally been asked if relatives can marry one another, he said the situation is not as uncommon as it sounds.
“Maybe some people have taken a fondness for a family member and they want to marry them,” Irby said by way of explanation. “But it’s a question that’s come up and we put it up there just in case someone is curious if that’s a possibility.”
In Florida, it is currently legal to get married at the age of 16 or 17, if both parties meet certain requirements. A county judge can waive the age requirement if parental consent is given. It can also be waived if the underage couple are parents or are expecting a child.
Putnam County Clerk of Court Tim Smith said he has not had direct experiences with people asking to marry their relatives, either. But he has had “one or two” underage individuals seeking a marriage license during his 16 years in office.
“I haven’t seen that many,” he said.
Clerk of Court David R. Ellspermann declined all comment on marriages in Marion County. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage, Marion County Clerk of Court employees were unwilling to perform ceremonies for people of the same sex due to their religious beliefs. Ellspermann said the county no longer performs marriage ceremonies for any couples.
Out of curiosity, we asked Alachua County what the most popular day of the year is to get married in the county. Irby said they couldn’t discern the answer because of the way the county maintains its records, but he did say dates with patterns, such as 7/7/17, are popular, as are Fridays, long weekends and holidays like Valentine’s Day.