UNSEALING PRIVATE MARRIAGE RECORDS                                                      H.B. 4802:

                                                                                                    SUMMARY OF BILL

                                                                                      REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE










House Bill 4802 (as reported without amendment)

Sponsor:  Representative Triston Cole

House Committee:  Families, Children, and Seniors

Senate Committee:  Families, Seniors and Human Services




The bill would amend Public Act 180 of 1897, which provides for the issuance of marriage licenses and certificates without publicity in certain cases, to allow a party to petition the probate court to unseal records related to a private marriage.


Under the Act, when a person desires to keep the exact date of his or her marriage to a person of the opposite sex a secret, the probate judge may issue, without publicity, a marriage license to any person applying, under oath, if good reason is expressed in the application and determined to be sufficient by the judge. The Act also allows a probate judge, without publicity, to marry individuals under marriageable age if the application for a license is accompanied by either 1) a written request of all of the biological or adoptive living parents of both parties, and their guardian or guardians if either or both parents are dead; or 2) a written request of the parents or guardians of the party under marriageable age, if only one party is underage.


Under the bill, after both parties to a marriage made private under the Act were over 18 years of age, both parties could petition the court to unseal the record of their marriage. If the court received such a petition, the court would be required to enter an order to unseal the record of marriage upon finding all of the following:


 --    The petitioners were married without publicity.

 --    The petitioners were both over 18 years of age at the time of filing the petition.

 --    Both of the petitioners wished to unseal the record of the marriage.


Also, if a party to a marriage made private under the Act were deceased and the surviving party were 18 years of age or older, the surviving party could petition the court to unseal the record of the marriage.


MCL 551.203 & 551.204                                             Legislative Analyst:  Nathan Leaman




The bill would have a negative fiscal impact on local court funding units and no fiscal impact on the State. An increased number of petitions would impose incremental resource demands on local courts and staff. The extent of the impact would depend on how many petitions were made and how they affected court caseloads and related administrative costs.


Date Completed:  12-5-17                                                    Fiscal Analyst:  Ryan Bergan



This analysis was prepared by nonpartisan Senate staff for use by the Senate in its deliberations and does not constitute an official statement of legislative intent.