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M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 5, Section D – Establishing Other Types of Marriages

1.  Tribal, Proxy, and Transgender Marriages


Introduction

This topic contains information on tribal, proxy, and transgender marriages, including

Change Date

July 9, 2018

III.iii.5.D.1.a.  Establishing the Validity of a Tribal Marriage

If the validity of a marriage that was allegedly celebrated in accordance with tribal custom is at issue, follow the steps in the table below to obtain facts and circumstances surrounding the marriage.
Step
Action
1
Request affidavits from the parties to the purported marriage that provide the
  • name of the tribe
  • date and place of the ceremony, and
  • name and address of the person who performed the ceremony.
2
Request affidavits from at least two persons who were present at the ceremony that provide the
  • name of the tribe
  • date and place of the ceremony, and
  • name and address of the person who performed the ceremony.
3
Request an affidavit from the person who performed the ceremony that provides
  • the date and place of the ceremony, and
  • that person’s authority for conducting the ceremony.
4
Obtain copies of any available written materials explaining the nature of the tribal marriage ceremony, such as that obtainable from textbooks or reliable Internet sites.
5
Request a Regional Counsel opinion regarding the validity of the marriage.
Note:  No administrative decision is required.
Reference:  For more information about requesting a Regional Counsel opinion, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.3.e.

III.iii.5.D.1.b.  Definition:  Proxy Marriage

proxy marriage is a marriage contracted or celebrated by one or more agents acting on behalf of the actual parties to the marriage.

III.iii.5.D.1.c.  Establishing the Validity of a Proxy Marriage

The validity of a proxy marriage depends on the law of the particular jurisdiction.  If at issue, request copies of any documents or certificates issued in connection with the marriage.
After development is complete, request a Regional Counsel opinion regarding the validity of the marriage under State law.
Note:  No administrative decision is required.
Reference:  For more information about requesting a Regional Counsel opinion, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.3.e.

III.iii.5.D.1.d.  Establishing the Validity of a Transgender Marriage

In some jurisdictions, it is possible to establish a valid marriage for a person who
  • undergoes gender-reassignment surgery, and
  • marries a member of the person’s original gender.
To establish the validity of a marriage under the conditions described in the preceding paragraph, request from the claimant
  • medical evidence to establish when the gender-reassignment surgery occurred, and
  • any other relevant evidence, such as an amended birth certificate or evidence of a legal name change.
After development is complete, request a Regional Counsel opinion regarding the validity of the marriage under State law.
Note:  No administrative decision is required.
Reference:  For more information on
Historical_M21-1III_iii_5_SecD_5-21-15.doc May 12, 2019 50 KB
7-9-18_Key-Changes_M21-1III_iii_5_SecD.docx May 12, 2019 38 KB
Change-May-21-2015-Transmittal-Sheet-M21-1III_iii_5_SecD_TS.docx May 12, 2019 38 KB
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