Getting the marriage license

Mon 18 Mar 2013 14:04:42 | 0 comments

We went to get our marriage license. We had put the date on our calendar so we could look forward to that special day.  The license was good only for 30 days.  With driver’s licenses and the $56 fee in hand, we drove to probate court.  

It seems that you can apply for a marriage license and a gun license as well as probate a will  - all at the same counter.  As I entered the probate office, I remembered being there only months before, as I was sworn in as the executress of my mother’s will.  How strange it was to be getting a marriage license from the same clerk at the same counter.

I put our names on the waiting list.  The first one was filled so I turned the page and signed at the top of the next page.  Then we sat down to wait. The clerk called the next name.  A couple stood up and so did a little girl. She must have been 10 years old or so.  The clerk gave them a form to fill out. “Don't sign anything on this form,” the clerk explained.  “I will have to swear you in when you sign this.”

They took the form on the clipboard back to their seat and began to fill out the information requested.  The little girl looked on as they completed the form. I wondered what the little girl was feeling.  Was this her mother’s boyfriend or the girl’s father who was now marrying her mother?

The next names on the list were called.  A man came to the counter with cash and an application for a gun license. An attorney and his client came to the counter to begin the probate process.  He was explaining the steps to his client.  I recognized the information.  I had sat in the same office as my attorney explained these steps to me.

The next couple was called to the counter.  They did not speak English.  

“Fill this out and don’t sign it,” the clerk repeated again.  “Do you have someone in mind to marry you?”

The couple looked at each other.  

“No,” they answered.

The clerk handed them a list of local justices of the peace.

Another man came to get a gun permit.  A few more couples filled out the applications for marriage licenses.  Finally Phang went up to the counter to find out why our names had not been called.  

I had put our names at the top of page three, not page two.  Fifteen more people had appeared and signed their names while we were waiting.  It was two-and-a- half hours later that our names were called.  

The clerk said.  “Raise your right hand and both of you swear that the information you have provided is correct to the best of your knowledge.”  

Then the clerk took the form and took our money; She gave us a page to explain where to send the completed marriage license after the ceremony.  Then she told us to have a good day and called the next name on the list.

And that is how you apply for a marriage license or a gun license or probate a will.  I wanted to tell the clerk that this was a special day.  Instead, Phang and I smiled at each other as we got on the elevator and then walked back to the parking lot.  Beauty, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder.

Susanne Katz is a GODR registered mediator and partner in Atlanta Elder Decisions, LLC. She is co-author of the book A Women's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce and writes about divorce and caregiving in her Second Life columns on ShareWIK.com.  She co-mediates elder issues with Atlanta Elder Decisions and divorce mediation with Mt. Vernon Counseling in Atlanta. A former museum director and curator, Susanne's arts and living columns have appeared in many Atlanta publications. Follow her on Twitter @SusanneGKatz.  

Read more columns by Susanne Katz here.

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