Marriage solemnization bill advances

TRENTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee released a bill Monday allowing certain non-ministers to solemnize marriages.

S2155/A2201 would allow marriages to be solemnized by trained lay people from non-denominational or educational non-profit organizations.

This is an outgrowth of a movement that began in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970s.

The bill already has been passed in the Assembly.  It passed in the Senate committee with Sen. Joe Kyrillos the lone no vote.

Kyrillos expressed concern over the entire concept of exactly what constitutes a trained lay celebrant under the terms of this proposal.

“I’m still trying to get my arms around what a ‘celebrant’ is,” he said.

Earlier testimony on this topic delved into questions of whether just about anyone could essentially be trained as a lay celebrant.

The panel also released S1567, which specifies when child support can be terminated. The bill passed unanimously. Under the provisions of the bill, a support order shall be terminated if one of several conditions exists: The person is 18 years old, married, in military service, working full time, of fails to provide course grade information to the parent paying for their education.

Exceptions would include if the person over age 18 is financially dependent due to physical or mental disabilities, or a court finds that exceptional circumstances exist.

Dan Phillips, of the Administrative Office of the Courts, said this bill would improve efficiency for the courts.

Outstanding arrears remain due, he said. The purpose is to prevent arrears that should not have been charged, he explained. “There are safeguards,’’ he said.

The committee also released three nominations:

Patrick Mullen to be director of the Banking Division; and two Superior Court judges, Mark Sandson of Atlantic County and Richard Wells of Camden County.

Marriage solemnization bill advances