In response to COVID-19, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued an emergency directive ordering magistrates to continue to perform marriage ceremonies statewide in accordance with appropriate social distancing practices. The directive allows the chief district court judge to restrict the times during which the ceremonies are conducted and restrict attendance at the ceremonies.
“Marriage forms an important part of the family structure and establishes a number of rights and legal obligations,” said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. “It is vital that we continue to provide this service while also making sure that we limit the risk of exposure for our court personnel to the greatest extent possible.”
North Carolina magistrates perform about 25,000 marriages a year. In recent weeks, with many wedding venues closed, couples seeking to be married brought large groups of witnesses and attendees to local magistrates’ offices to be married there instead, prompting several counties to cease performing marriages altogether.
The Chief Justice’s order directs that all counties resume providing this service and allows for local officials to limit the number of attendees, require appointments, and limit the hours in which these services are performed.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has taken several other emergency steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus:
- Court system deadlines have been extended until June 1, 2020
- Most court proceedings have been postponed until after June 1, 2020
- Filing deadlines in the appellate courts have been extended
- Additional emergency directives issued by Chief Justice Beasley allow court proceedings to be held remotely, extend payment due dates for legal financial obligations, waive notarization requirements for court filings, and allow service of certain documents by email
In light of this rapidly evolving public health situation, the Judicial Branch will provide continuously updated information on our website, NCcourts.gov. The public is encouraged to visit NCcourts.gov as a first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse. If you have a question about your court case, please first view the county page in which the case is filed for any local announcements, as well as the closings and advisories page, then, if needed, contact the clerk of superior court office before you go to the courthouse. The public may also visit the Judicial Branch Facebook page and Twitter account to access information related to the coronavirus health concern.