Saturday 21 November 2015

Getting Married in Korea: Proxy Marriages

This is part of the series, Getting Married While Living in Korea. Proxy marriages have been around for a long, long time (dating back to the Medieval Ages) A proxy marriage takes place when one person is not able to physically attend the ceremony and another person is given power of attorney to stand in for that person. If both people are unable to attend then it's called a double proxy marriage.

Before you get married, there are certain things that you should discuss. Here are some questions that although they are aimed at military couples, they still pertain to many couples. There are also many books with questions you should discuss before you get married. 

Is this legal?
It depends on where you do it. In the US, for example, Alabama, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, and Texas all allow single proxy marriages. This means that one person doesn't have to be there. Montana allows double proxy marriages if one of the people getting married is active duty military.

Is it recognized elsewhere?
Do your research. Many countries honor other countries' marriage certificates, however, some countries might not accept marriage certificates if the marriage was a proxy marriage. You can tell by simply looking at the marriage certificate since the people you gave power of attorney to will sign on your behalf.

What the US Military Says
They recognise them and give more information here.

Gay Marriages
Gay marriage is now legal in the USA and the US military offers benefits to gay couples, so you can get married by proxy.

Double Proxy Marriages in Montana
"Marriage by proxy is when one or both parties to a marriage cannot be present at the ceremony. Section 40-1-301(2), MCA If a party to a marriage is unable to be present at the solemnization, the party may authorize in writing a third person to act as proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is satisfied that the absent party is unable to be present and has consented to the marriage, the person may solemnize the marriage by proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is not satisfied, the parties may petition the district court for an order permitting the marriage to be solemnized by proxy." (Taken from Flathead County's website).

Double proxy marriages in Montana (Flathead County to be exact) are big business. One person must be active duty military or a resident of Montana and it can be done even if the other person is a foreigner. While some people might say it's not romantic, if you live in Korea you have to jump through hoops to get married anyways. If you're both American or if you plan on living in the USA, this would allow you to get an American marriage certificate. It's also fast: usually less than two weeks.

Documents Needed
You'll need to fill out a few forms. They're pretty straight forward: application, power of attorney, bride's name change, Rubella waiver, and credit card info. Some need to be notarised and those can be done for free at Legal on base or at your embassy for a fee. You'll also need a copy of your ID which could be your birth certificate, military ID, driver's license, or passport. Some places may require your divorce papers, and/or a copy of your Social Security Card. Fees vary, but most places are around $600-$700 and all offer military discounts. Some may offer payment plans.

Warnings about Double Proxy Marriages
First of all, it's not uncommon for people to get married for the benefits, so make sure you know what you're getting into. Second, Montana doesn't ask for divorce decrees, so it's entirely possible for the person you're marrying to already be married and therefore voiding your marriage. If they're in the military, there are two documents that show a person's civil status: their LES (leave and earnings statement) and their ERB (enlisted record brief). Ask to see one of them. Their most recent LES would be your best bet. They can blacken out all the other info just as long as you can see their name and civil status. After all they're going to marry you so they should be able to trust you with at least that info.

Companies that Perform Double Proxy Marriages
Here are some of the most popular companies.


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