Wedding Season in Florida

Wedding season is here again!

Are you a Florida Notary Public planning to participate in your first wedding? Maybe you have performed ceremonies before, but it has been a while and you feel the need to brush up on everything that entails.

Did you know that you are allowed to perform a wedding ceremony for a family member? Yes, it is true – this is because you are not notarizing their signatures, you are only notarizing that you performed the ceremony.

As a Florida notary public, you have the right to officiate a wedding, provided that the wedding takes place in Florida, and the couple being married has an official marriage license from a Florida Clerk of the Court in their possession before the ceremony.

After the ceremony, it is your job to complete the Marriage Record section of the marriage license and returning it back to the county court judge or clerk’s office from where it was issued, for official recording. After recording, the clerk’s office will mail a certified copy to the couple.

It is a good idea to go over the ceremony in detail with the happy couple before the wedding day. A run-through, or rehearsal is also highly recommended so that there are no surprises. Many times a couple will be very specific about how they want the ceremony to go and may have certain vows or religious readings they want included. You can oversee and provide guidance, since you know what needs to be said as they enter into this legally binding commitment.

The State of Florida has a little booklet available for free online called Performing Marriage Ceremonies, A Guide for Florida’s Notaries Public, which has not been updated since 1999, but contains helpful information anyway. There is a sample marriage license application along with instructions on how to complete the Marriage Record portion of the license, and the rules for performing a wedding ceremony. Of course you will need to ignore the section that states Florida notaries cannot marry same-sex couples, because as of January 2015, same sex marriage is legal in the state of Florida.

Below are a few other links you may find helpful.

Florida Statute 741.04 regarding Marriage Licenses.

Sample wedding ceremony (very very basic).

What is a Notary Public and Why Would You Want to Become One?

Most people are under the impression that notaries “just notarize signatures” when there is really much more to this appointed position. With the amount of fraud and identity theft going on today, Notary Publics are an important part in the prevention of fraudulent transactions. A notary must know and follow their state’s laws, while also maintaining keen eye during transactions and having sound judgment with regard to their signer’s state of mind and understanding of each document they are signing.

While the majority of duties a notary performs involves the signing of important documents, there are other tasks they can perform (depending on which state they are in) such as administering oaths, taking/certifying affidavits and depositions, and performing civil marriage ceremonies just to name a few.

Notaries are “appointed” or “commissioned” usually by their state’s Governor’s Office or Secretary of State, which means that this is a privilege subject to disciplinary action if the laws of the state are not followed. Each state has it’s own requirements for becoming a notary, but most require an applicant to be a minimum of 18 years old, a resident of the state, and have a clean criminal record. Many states are now requiring applicants to show their knowledge of the state’s notary laws by passing an exam.

The term of a notary tends to be four years, but can vary according to state. Every time a notary performs the act of acknowledgement, they must include their commission number and expiration date, either handwritten or stamped depending on state requirement.

When an individual signs a document in the presence of a notary, the notary then completes a notarial certificate attesting to this, including the date and personal identification given. The notarial certificate can be attached as a separate sheet, but it most commonly appears at the end of the document with and acknowledgement stating along these lines: “Acknowledged before me by (signer’s printed name) this (day)th day of (month), (year), whom provided (type of photo ID, ex. Driver’s Licence)/or is personally known to me and who did/did not take an oath.” It is absolutely most important that the person is physically in front of the notary and executes their signature in the presence of that notary. No alternative – however creative it might be – is acceptable.

It sounds like a lot of responsibility, doesn’t it? So why would you want to become a notary? Well, if you are in employed in a position that often requires signatures to be notarized (such as a bank, government office, real estate or insurance business), your being the in-house notary will obviously make you a more valuable employee. Officers or executives of your company may also notice you more, since those are the people typically needing a notary most.

If you are hunting for a job, being able to add Notary Public to your resume is another plus in your favor. If you are self-employed, this can also add income if you make it a service, or it may be a convenience you want to add to keep customers coming back.

How a Company Can Check Your Criminal Records Legally

Since 9/11, the American public has become much more conscious about security. It is now common for someone looking for work to learn that an employer checks criminal records of prospective new employees.

Criminal background checks are now being done by some companies on current employees. As a result, some people are finding that offenses committed many years ago are causing trouble in the present.

Additionally, most states have laws requiring professional licensing boards to do criminal record checks to for occupation-related convictions. This practice is leading to youthful offenses, making it difficult for workers to find jobs. Some people are even losing jobs that they have worked at for years.

As part of the Government's identity theft solutions, a company must always obtain a prospective employee's written consent before it can run a check and get criminal record information. Read your application carefully. Often the wording for obtaining consent for a criminal record check is written into the job application, though some companies use a separate consent form.

Many states have laws limiting how far back they can check for convictions, or limiting the types of convictions they take into account for business or job-related offenses. Even if your record has been expunged, these types of offenses may still come up in a criminal records search. You may want to check with a lawyer to find out how far into the past an employer can look for arrests or convictions.

A licensing board is an agency that checks criminal records for people who wish to work in many occupations. Teachers, health care workers, childcare or elder care workers and accountants are examples of license applicants who may be subject to criminal record search. The licensing agency may limit the background check to occupation-related offenses.

While a larceny conviction will most likely not cause a problem if applying for a license for massage therapy, one for prostitution or for a sex offense would. A criminal record can create special problems if you are applying for a license to work with vulnerable persons, such as children.

A past criminal offense can create problems for a person who is looking for work. This is true whether an employer is doing a criminal records search or it is a state licensing board that checks criminal records. If the arrest or conviction was in the distant past, then having a clean criminal record in the years since can work in your favor. Having the conviction expunged from your record can also help in getting a job or a professional license. In either case, if you have had a past brush with the law, you should talk to an attorney to find out how offense will affect your being able to find work.

Notaries Performing Wedding Ceremonies in Florida

A Notary Public is allowed to perform wedding ceremonies in the State of Florida, but not all Notaries will perform weddings, usually because of their own personal religious beliefs. The law giving Notaries the authority to perform marriages was enacted in 1861.

In order to solemnize a marriage, the couple must obtain a valid Florida marriage license from a county court judge or Clerk of the Circuit Court and present it to the Notary before the marriage ceremony. The Notary must verify the effective date and expiration date of the license and require proper identification if they are not personally known to the Notary.

Vows can be personalized and unique, but the intent to make a legally binding commitment must be made. The Notary is responsible for completing the certificate portion of the Marriage Record and returning it to the office that issued the license, within 10 days after the ceremony.

Following is an example of what a ceremony should contain(at a minimum), when performed by a Notary Public:

Some sort of announcement (like "Dearly Beloved....we are gathered here today..)to announce the joining of the man and woman in (holy) matrimony....Then the Exchange of Vows:

The Notary will ask the woman, "(her name), do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in (holy) matrimony, to love him, to honor him, to comfort him and to keep him in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live""She should answer...."I do"This may be repeated in kind for the man.

Then the Notary would state, "repeat after me" - To the Man...."I (his name), take you (her name) to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part." To the Woman..." I (her name), take you (his name) to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part."

Then they would exchange rings as the Notary would ask the man to place the ring on the woman's finger and to repeat, "I give you this ring as a token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love" (same for woman).

Then the Notary would ask the couple to join hands and would declare, "By virtue of the authority vested in me under the laws of the State of Florida, I now pronounce you husband and wife" Then to the man...."you may now kiss the bride"