Inflating the value of marriage 

Getting married this summer? You might want to consider getting that incidental but legally necessary piece of paper called a marriage license sooner than later, because making your unconditional devotion to one anotherofficial in the eyes of the government is going to get more expensive come July 1.

Thanks to a pair of bills passed in the last legislative session, marriage licenses will go up from $30.25 to $53. Think that’s steep? Just wait until you get divorced. A third bill raises the fee for filing for divorce $10, from $190 to $200.

“The first piece of legislation was submitted on behalf of [Montana Association of Clerks of District Court],” says Missoula Clerk of District Court, Shirley Faust. “We wanted to come more in line with other states. The $10 increase goes to help us defray the cost of issuing marriage licenses.”

House Bill 476 bumped up the cost of marriage licenses $13 more. That money will be used to fund domestic and sexual violence victims’ services. On the bright side, the new legislation will make balancing your checkbook a bit easier by doing away with the 25 cents in spare change.

Still, Faust said she hasn’t seen a stampede of young lovers racing to the clerk’s office to get their licenses before the increases set in.

“We haven’t seen a rush based on that. This is such a busy time of year for us anyway,” she says. “Last year we issued 841 marriage licenses. Of those, over 400 were done between May and August.

This year the department has issued about 350 licenses to date.

Missoula resident Crystal Vanderstouw got her marriage license last week. She and her fiancé, Scott Calanca, are getting married July 23.

“When I went in [the clerk’s office] they were all talking about [the fee increase]. They said we got in under the wire,” says Vanderstouw. “I’ve been telling everyone we know who is thinking about getting married to go get one now while they’re still running the special.”

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