Family Law

More Couples Get Hitched by Clergy Ordained with a Mouse Click; Are Legal Challenges Ahead?


More couples are apparently getting hitched by friends and family members ordained online with a mouse click, a trend that is giving pause to at least one law professor.

The New York Times digs up some statistics suggesting an increase in such officiants, though most states don’t keep track of the numbers. The number of marriages performed by Universal Life ministers, which ordains people online, has doubled in four years’ time in Ohio, and more than doubled in New York City in two years. The numbers are still low, though. Last year, nearly 1,600 people registered as Universal Life ministers to perform weddings, and Universal Life ministers performed 1,105 weddings in New York City.

Hofstra University law professor Joanna L. Grossman has written on the issue. She tells the Times that such marriages might one day be challenged in annulments or estate battles. “The states need to make clear whether they’re valid,” she said.

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