Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8variety of safety and liability reasons. The most common occurrence is for prisoners who want to marry while still in prison. There is now a healthy series of federal cases that require local authorities to make arrangements for such applicants. That has often meant sending a clerk to a prison to take a signature, but several Kentucky clerks have attempted to refuse such service when it involved persons incarcerated for shorter periods of time. They lost, so now as a consequence of these court cases, clerks who will not go to the prison or jail must at least issue a form to the warden to allow the prisoner to give a permission of sorts to the clerk to accept a “not-in-person” signature. That is what the Jefferson County Clerk will do in such circumstances, and the Kentucky Department of Library and Archives, which has jurisdiction in marriage forms, suggests that is an acceptable course of action for such situations. If the prison authorities will not accept such forms, of course, that’s not a matter for a clerk, and the prisoner will have to seek redress against the warden to compel completion of the form. A somewhat similar circumstance is when an applicant is hospitalized and cannot come to a clerk office. If this is temporary, they may just wait until they recover, but sometimes a person who is confined permanently, or on their death bed, wants to get married. This is a particularly dangerous circumstance for the clerk, as there may be some suspicion of fraud or undue influence and the control of family assets. Marriage is highly consequential in estate law, and unanticipated marriages will upset the expectations of the rest of the family. You may recall a decade ago the tabloid-feast over the marriage of Anna Nicole Smith to billionaire Howard Marshall and his subsequent death. Our office and the other clerks would prefer not to create such confusion for anyone, so we stand by the letter of the law- requiring a person in poor health to still come to our office to sign the application. This can be done with the clerk even going out to the car or ambulance carrying the signature, but retaining that strong implication that the applicant is there of their own volition, under our system of laws. None of us in the clerk business will soon forget the controversy in 2015 over marriage applications and the Supreme Court implementation of its same-sex marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges. In Kentucky, several clerks objected to the way they approved and signed the standard marriage form, so in 2016 the legislature passed a bill, SB 216, which changed the form to meet some of these objections, most notably adding an optional designation of “spouse” for husband or wife, and rewording the statement of the clerk for accepting the record. So far, none of these changes have attracted further criticism or litigation, and the many other restrictions on who may marry, (i.e., siblings, first cousins, multiple partners) are probably still a generation away from serious contest in the federal courts. We do still receive, however, other questions about marriage procedures, most commonly the requirement that both parties present themselves to the clerk and sign the application. This can be done at any of our offices, but must be done in person, not by a power-of- attorney, or by mail. This is the rule not only in Kentucky, but in every state. In certain circumstances, clerks have gone “off-site” to accept signatures, but this has been frowned upon for a 7 Marriage Issues Still Occur By: Frank Friday Esquire Director