Since 2015, it became a tad easier to get married in the Commonwealth.
That happened because the Office of the Attorney General reportedly waived some of the requirements for getting married.
According to records obtained from the Saipan Mayor’s Office, the number of marriages in the CNMI has gone up by more than 60 percent in the year 2016 alone. CNMI mayors, as well as judges and priests, are allowed to officiate marriages in the CNMI.
Saipan Mayor’s Office record show a substantial increase in marriages in 2015 and 2016 after the OAG reportedly waived the need for divorce decrees, death certificates, and proof of singleness (CENOMAR [certificate of non-marriage] for Philippine citizens).
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said his office was informed by the OAG in January 2015 that they no longer need to look for any documents to prove that the person being married is single, divorced, or a widow.
That resulted in an increase in the number of marriages in the CNMI. From 170 in 2015, that number jumped to 275 in 2016.
In January 2015, there were 10 marriage licenses issued. A year later, in January 2016, there were 19 marriage licenses issued.
The Saipan Mayor’s Office issued 12 marriage licenses in February 2015. In February 2016, it issued 18 marriage licenses.
In March 2015 there were 16 marriage licenses, while in March 2016, there were 23 marriage licenses.
There was a significant jump in June, from 12 licenses issued in 2015 to 42 licenses issued in 2016.
It was also shown that in 2016 there were more marriages among people of different ethnic backgrounds as opposed to people that are from the island. There was a higher rate of Filipinos and Chinese getting married after the waiver took effect that year. It is believed that the simpler requirement has something to do with that.
“The only requirements needed to obtain a marriage license in the CNMI now is your passport, valid I.D, and birth certificate,” said Saipan Mayor’s Office marriage coordinator Barbara Yamada.
In place of a divorce decree, proof of singleness, or a death certificate (if you are a widow), when filling out the application for a marriage license, the couple must sign that they can be charged with perjury if the information on the application is false.
In an updated application for a marriage license, the person must swear that they are no longer married, they are single, or that their former spouse has already passed away.
“I just have to have faith that whatever is stated on the application is the truth because it is my obligation to issue marriage licenses,” Apatang said.
If it is later determined that the couple lied in their application for a marriage license, “the court can charge them on our island for perjury,” Apatang added.
Yamada shared the same belief that the increase in the number of marriages is largely due to people not needing certain documents anymore.