By KELSEY LESTER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Some state legislators want to raise the price of marriage licenses for the first time in 60 years, more than doubling the fee.
The current fee for in-state licenses is $20, and it would rise to $50 if the bill passes.
The bill is sponsored by nine House Democrats, including Reps. Will Snyder of Muskegon; Kimberly Edwards of Eastpointe; Tullio Liberati Jr. of Allen Park; Rachel Hood of Grand Rapids; and Denise Mentzer of Mt. Clemens.
The money would go to counties’ general fund and to the Friend of the Court, an agency that helps courts handle child support and custody issues.
The Friend of the Court helps settle disputes arising from court cases, investigates and makes recommendations about child custody and provides court forms for family law matters, according to Michigan Legal Help.
For every resident marriage license, $5 goes to the county. That number would rise to $15, which would be a 150% increase for the county. The other $15 would rise to $35 for the Friend of the Court.
In a written statement, Liberati said he supports the bill because the license fee hasn’t changed since the 1960s.
“The current inflation affects both the private and public sectors,” he said. “It will generate more local government revenue and increase funding for the circuit court for family counseling services.”
“This service provides counseling for people who go through domestic violence and child abuse,” Liberati said. “By raising the fee for marriage licenses for esidents and nonresidents, we can allocate more funds to these government programs that assist others in need.”
In 2022, Michigan had about 51,000 marriages, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. At the current fee rate, marriage licenses generate more than $1 million each year.
The marriage rate in Michigan ranks 39th among all other states according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The price of marriage licenses nationally ranges from $10 to $150 — and can sometimes depend on the county. For example, Indiana’s marriage license fee is only $18 for residents, while Florida starts at $93.
Michigan’s fee is on the lower end and would be brought up to the national average if raised. For those who cannot afford the new fee, there would be a waiver provision under the legislation.
The bill was passed by the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee 6-3, and is now pending in the House.