County to pon­der fines for phony mar­riage of­fi­ci­a­tors

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - NEVADA - By Michael Scott David­son Con­tact Michael Scott David­son at sdavid­son@re­viewjour­nal.com or 702-477- 3861. Fol­low @david­son­lvrj on Twit­ter.

Clark County Clerk Lynn Goya has seen fu­tures threat­ened by a sin­gle piece of miss­ing pa­per.

The doc­u­ment is a mar­riage cer­tifi­cate. In the U.S. it could be vi­tal to col­lect­ing a bevy of ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing those tied to health in­sur­ance, taxes and So­cial Se­cu­rity.

But for any of the tens of thou­sands of cou­ples who tie the knot in Las Ve­gas each year, those ben­e­fits could be off the ta­ble if the of­fi­ciant never files the proper pa­per­work with Goya.

“I’ve had peo­ple come to my of­fice, they’ve been mar­ried for 30 years, but there’s no record of the mar­riage and it puts every­thing in jeop­ardy,” Goya said. “Be­cause we do so many mar­riages to tourists, 80 per­cent, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who aren’t eth­i­cal and also peo­ple who just make a mis­take.”

While Goya said un­recorded mar­riages are rare, county com­mis­sion­ers are set to give her of­fice more power in stop­ping peo­ple who of­fi­ci­ate mar­riages with­out the state’s au­tho­riza­tion.

On Tues­day com­mis­sion­ers will con­sider al­low­ing Goya to charge of­fend­ers a fine of up to $1,500 for each un­law­ful mar­riage they of­fi­ci­ate. Any money col­lected will be de­posited in the county’s gen­eral fund, Goya said.

Of­fi­ci­at­ing a mar­riage with­out a li­cense in Ne­vada used to be a mis­de­meanor, but state law­mak­ers changed it to a fine­able of­fense this year.

Goya said the change will al­low her of­fice to take swifter ac­tion in de­ter­ring peo­ple from break­ing the law.

“The crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is prob­a­bly too cum­ber­some for this in most cases,” she said. “As the (county) clerk, it’s my job to make sure the mar­riage is rock solid.”

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