New Mexico Wedding Laws
Residents and visitors to New Mexico understand why the state is the Land of Enchantment. With epic scenery, soaring mountains and vibrant communities, New Mexico is the perfect place for a wedding.
Whether a marrying couple calls the state home or hails from somewhere else, it is important to understand New Mexico’s marriage laws. Continue reading for an in-depth review of marriage restrictions and requirements in the Land of Enchantment.
Getting Married in New Mexico
New Mexico law does not dictate how marriage ceremonies must unfold, giving couples and officiants considerable flexibility to design their ceremonies.
Still, to solemnize a union, the couple must consent to the marriage. The officiant also must pronounce the marriage at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Likewise, the couple and the officiant must appear in person during the ceremony.
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N.M. Stat. § 40-1-3. Ceremony by religious society.
It is lawful for any religious society or federally recognized Indian nation, tribe or pueblo to solemnize marriage conformably with its rites and customs, and the secretary of the society or the person authorized by the society or federally recognized Indian nation, tribe or pueblo shall make and transmit a transcript to the county clerk certifying to the marriages solemnized.
History: Laws 1862-1863, p. 66; C.L. 1865, ch. 75, § 8; C.L. 1884, § 984; C.L. 1897, § 1421; Code 1915, § 3428; C.S. 1929, § 87-104; 1941 Comp., § 65-103; 1953 Comp., § 57-1-3; Laws 1983, ch. 193, § 2; 1989, ch. 78, § 2; 2013, ch. 144, § 3.
New Mexico Marriage Requirements
For marriage purposes, the age of consent is 18 in New Mexico.
Individuals who are 16 and 17 may obtain a marriage license with the consent of both living parents. For those under the age of 16 to marry, a judicial order is necessary. Helping a minor secure a marriage license may violate state law.
New Mexico allows same-sex couples to marry, giving members of the LGBTQ+ community equal access to the institution of marriage. Closely related individuals may not marry in the Land of Enchantment, however.
It is not necessary for a person to be a resident of New Mexico to apply for a state marriage license. Understandably, New Mexico is a popular location for destination weddings.
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N.M Stat. § 40-1-6. Restrictions on marriage of minors.
A. The county clerk shall not issue a marriage license to an unemancipated person sixteen or seventeen years of age, and no person authorized by the laws of this state to solemnize marriages shall knowingly unite in marriage any person sixteen or seventeen years of age, unless the minor first receives the written consent of each of the minor's living parents as shown on the minor's certificate of birth, or the district court has authorized the marriage of such person upon request of a parent or legal guardian of the person for good cause shown, and a certified copy of the judicial authorization is filed with the county clerk.
B. The county clerk shall not issue a marriage license to any person under sixteen years of age, and no person authorized by the laws of this state to solemnize marriages shall knowingly unite in marriage any person under sixteen years of age, unless the children's or family court division of the district court has first authorized the marriage of the person upon request of a parent or legal guardian of the person in settlement of proceedings to compel support and establish parentage, or where an applicant for the marriage license is pregnant, and a certified copy of the judicial authorization is filed with the county clerk.
History: Laws 1876, ch. 31, § 2; C.L. 1884, § 993; C.L. 1897, § 1426; Code 1915, § 3431; Laws 1923, ch. 100, § 2; C.S. 1929, § 87-107; 1941 Comp., § 65-106; Laws 1953, ch. 112, § 1; 1953 Comp., § 57-1-6; Laws 1972, ch. 97, § 70; 1975, ch. 32, § 2; repealed and reenacted by Laws 2013, ch. 144, § 4.
N.M. Stat. § 28-6-1. Age of majority; eighteen years; exception.
A. Except as provided in Subsection B or otherwise specifically provided by existing law, any person who has reached his eighteenth birthday shall be considered to have reached his majority as provided in Section 12-2-2 NMSA 1978 [repealed] and is an adult for all purposes the same as if he had reached his twenty-first birthday.
B. For the purposes of the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act [repealed], as it relates to any gift made prior to June 18, 1971, the donee shall not be entitled to delivery or payment over of the gift until he has reached his twenty-first birthday.
History: 1953 Comp., § 13-13-1, enacted by Laws 1971, ch. 213, § 1; 1973, ch. 138, § 12.
N.M. Stat. § 40-1-7. Incestuous marriages.
All marriages between relations and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of all degrees; between brothers and sisters of full blood or of half blood; between uncles and nieces; and between aunts and nephews are declared incestuous and absolutely void.
History: Laws 1876, ch. 31, § 1; C.L. 1884, § 992; C.L. 1897, § 1425; Code 1915, § 3430; C.S. 1929, § 87-106; 1941 Comp., § 65-107; 1953 Comp., § 57-1-7; 2013, ch. 144, § 5.
How to Become a Wedding Officiant in New Mexico
In New Mexico, the following individuals may officiate at a wedding ceremony:
Ordained members of religious clergy
Authorized representatives of federally recognized Indian tribes
Current and retired judges, justices and judicial magistrates
Anyone who officiates a wedding in the Land of Enchantment must be at least 18 at the time of the ceremony.
The State of New Mexico allows ordained ministers from the Universal Life Church to perform marriage ceremonies. The ULC minister should have ordination documents to show to county clerks or other government officials. These documents are available in the ULC catalog.
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N.M. Stat. § 40-1-2. Marriages solemnized; ordained clergy or civil magistrates may solemnize.
A. The civil contract of marriage is entered into when solemnized as provided in Chapter 40, Article 1 NMSA 1978. As used in Chapter 40, Article 1 NMSA 1978, "solemnize" means to join in marriage before witnesses by means of a ceremony.
B. A person who is an ordained member of the clergy or who is an authorized representative of a federally recognized Indian nation, tribe or pueblo may solemnize the contract of marriage without regard to sect or rites and customs the person may practice.
C. Active or retired judges, justices and magistrates of any of the courts established by the constitution of New Mexico, United States constitution, laws of the state or laws of the United States are civil magistrates having authority to solemnize contracts of marriage. Civil magistrates solemnizing contracts of marriage shall charge no fee therefor.
Applying For a Marriage License in New Mexico
In many states, marriage licenses have expiration dates and other temporal restrictions. That is not the case in New Mexico, however.
A state-issued marriage license is usable immediately. Consequently, as soon as the clerk delivers a marriage license to the requesting couple, the couple may marry. Likewise, the couple may choose to wed at any point after the issuance of the marriage license.
Once the marriage takes place, though, the officiant has only 90 days to return the completed marriage license to the county clerk who issued it.
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N.M. Stat. § 40-1-15. Certification of marriage; recording and indexing.
A. It is the duty of all persons solemnizing the contract of marriage in this state to certify the marriage to the county clerk within ninety days from the date of the marriage ceremony. Upon ensuring the information on the certificate is complete and legible, the county clerk shall immediately upon receipt of the certificate cause it to be properly recorded and indexed in a permanent record as a part of the county records.
B. The county clerk may issue a certificate of correction or correct or reissue an application for a marriage license, a marriage license or a certificate of marriage as a result of a typographical or data entry error by the office of the county clerk. The county clerk shall issue a certificate of correction or correct or reissue an application for a marriage license, a marriage license or a certificate of marriage to correct an error on the document upon order of the district court.
History: Laws 1905, ch. 65, § 4; Code 1915, § 3438; C.S. 1929, § 87-114; 1941 Comp., § 65-113; 1953 Comp., § 57-1-13; 2013, ch. 144, § 10.
How to Get a New Mexico Marriage License
New Mexico law requires couples to appear in person at the county clerk’s office to apply for a marriage license. When visiting the clerk’s office, applicants must provide their names, social security numbers and government-issued identification documents.
The cost to apply for a marriage license in New Mexico is $25.
If it is not possible for an applicant to appear in person, he or she may ask a judge to waive the in-person requirement. Upon a showing of good cause, the judge provides authorization for remote application. The applicant must forward this authorization to the county clerk.
Regardless, an applicant does not have to provide proof of previous divorces or the results of a blood test to secure a marriage license in New Mexico.
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N.M. Stat. § 40-1-10. License required; county clerk.
A. Each couple desiring to marry pursuant to the laws of New Mexico shall first obtain a license from a county clerk of this state and following a ceremony conducted in this state file the license for recording in the county issuing the license.
B. To obtain a marriage license, the couple shall personally appear at the office of the county clerk issuing the license and provide sufficient identification to satisfy the county clerk as to each person's identity and qualification to receive a marriage license pursuant to Chapter 40, Article 1 NMSA 1978. On application to a judge of the district court, the court, for good cause, may authorize a person unable to appear personally to obtain a license from the county clerk, and a certified copy of the judicial authorization shall be filed with the county clerk.
C. The county clerk:
(1) shall collect the social security number of an applicant for a marriage license only as provided for in Section 27-1-10 NMSA 1978;
(2) shall not make available a social security number to another person except as provided for in Section 27-1-10 NMSA 1978; and
(3) may, thirty days after the commencement of each fiscal year, dispose of, in a secure manner, those social security numbers collected in the previous fiscal year that have not been requested as provided for in Section 27-1-10 NMSA 1978.
History: Laws 1905, ch. 65, § 1; Code 1915, § 3435; C.S. 1929, § 87-111; Laws 1939, ch. 25, § 1; 1941 Comp., § 65-110; 1953 Comp., § 57-1-10; Laws 1969, ch. 104, § 1; 1973, ch. 51, § 3; 2013, ch. 144, § 7.
N.M. Stat § 40-1-11. Fees; disposition.
The county clerk shall receive a fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for issuing, acknowledging and recording a marriage license and marriage certificate. Fifteen dollars ($15.00) of each fee shall be remitted by the county treasurer to the state treasurer, within fifteen days of the last day of each month, for credit to the children's trust fund.
History: 1953 Comp., § 57-1-10.1, enacted by Laws 1957, ch. 33, § 1; 1977, ch. 253, § 64; 1979, ch. 131, § 1; 1985, ch. 52, § 1; 1986, ch. 15, § 10; 2013, ch. 144, § 8.
Finalizing the Union
After the ceremony concludes, the newlyweds may focus on enjoying the reception or looking forward to the honeymoon. The officiant, though, has some additional steps to take.
Specifically, the minister must properly complete the marriage license. This requires filling in the appropriate information and securing the signatures of the couple. The officiant must also sign the marriage license.
If the minister has ULC ordination, he or she typically must list the name of the church and its address. Using the minister’s home address is usually sufficient.
After completing and signing the marriage license, the officiant must deliver it to the county clerk who issued it. New Mexico law only gives officiants 90 days to provide the clerk with the completed and signed marriage license.
Once the clerk receives the marriage license, he or she records it. This ensures a copy of the marriage record stays with the county clerk’s office permanently. Still, knowing the legal requirements for officiating a wedding in New Mexico allows the minister to make the couple’s wedding day special.