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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 102301
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I have been asked to officiate at the wedding of a friend in

Customer Question

I have been asked to officiate at the wedding of a friend in the State of Pennsylvania, Delaware County. A number of years ago, I applied for and obtained an ordination from an on line church. Am I legally able to marry this couple?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

Online ordinations have been the subject of some debates in a few states. PA is among these. According to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 1503 the following persons can officiate marriages: current and former or retired (Pennsylvania or Pennsylvania District) justices, judges, or district justices (provided the retired magistrates are serving as senior judges or district justices); mayors of any city or borough, a minister, priest, or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.

PA has split by county on whether or not an online church qualifies as a "regularly established church." For example, York County does not consider this enough. See Heyer v. Hollerbush. However, a Bucks County Court has approved an online church minister as an officiant in 2008.

At this point, the matter remains undecided in terms of a state-wide ruling. There is also no conclusive ruling for Delaware County. So if you attempt to officiate, then (1) the clerk allows you, it would be presumed fine unless later challenged by one of the parties in an annulment or the county itself in a court action, or, (2) if the clerk does not allow you and you/the parties decide to press the case, then the Court will decide.

So unfortunately, the area of law for this is still very much gray in PA.

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Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!