Colorado law allows proxy marriages in cases where one of the parties to a marriage is unable to be present and to participate in the solemnization of the marriage and so designates another person to stand in his or her place at the marriage ceremony as a “proxy.” In other words, in Colorado you have been able to get married without actually attending your wedding so long as one party is present and the person performing the marriage understands that the missing person had no way of attending the ceremony, and, of course, that they are in consent of it.
Proxy marriages are particularly helpful to assist members of the armed forces who may be deployed for long times and yet wish to marry their partner who has remained stateside. In El Paso County, which hosts many military service members, the proxy marriage option can be an important option for El Paso County residents.
A new law that passed the Colorado General Assembly this legislative season puts some limits and restrictions on the Colorado “proxy marriage” law. Previously, there were no definite, legal guidelines as to what “unable to be present” actually meant, how consent for the proxy marriage was made, or what the person who is conducting the ceremony must do to prove that they understand that a "by proxy" marriage is allowed in this circumstance.
Under the new law, which has been passed by the 2015 state legislature, proxy marriage in Colorado will be limited to:
- Active membrs of the United States Armed Forces who have been deployed in a foreign country, or are stationed within a different state and may not leave due to combat operations or other military-related obligations.
- Government contractors, or those working directly under them, who are operating in a foreign country or separate state due to a contract that supports the United States Armed Forces or any relevant military-related obligations.
The new law also clarifies how the county clerk will issue a marriage license for a proxy marriage in Colorado:
- One party to the marriage must live in Colorado.
- Both parties to the marriage must be aged 18 or over.
- One spouse-to-be must obtain a marriage license through traditional methods through the relevant county clerk.
- Since both parties to a marriage must sign the application for a marriage license, one party will sign for the license in person and present a signed notarized affidavit from the absent person, along with appropriate identification of the absent person.
The critical document for obtaining a marriage license for a proxy marriage in Colorado will be the affidavit for the absentee. This must be notarized and presented with a copy of their birth certificate, current driver’s license, or any other record that officially states their date or birth.
The other strict requirement for proxy marriage in Colorado is that both parties must be at least 18 years old. Unlike other situations where a court may be asked, and permit, a marriage of a person under 18 years old, there are no exceptions in the new proxy marriage law to this requirement.
It appears that the Colorado legislature has appropriately tweaked the Colorado proxy marriage law to make sure that it serves the needs of those who would have the most pressing need to use it at the same time ensuring that this unique process of marriage would not be misused.