My wedding is just a few months away, and we've decided to have my mother officiate. She got ordained online through Universal Life Church. In our state, she is required to file her credentials with the county before performing the ceremony. That's no problem.
I've been reading around online about the legalities of online ordination. I do understand that the laws vary by state. According to the ULC website, my state does accept ordination certificates from ULC. I also know of other people who have gotten married in my state by officiants who were ordained online. However, I've read a lot of stuff online (here and in other forums and articles) that couples really need to be careful because if they use an officiant who was ordained online, there is a chance that their wedding isn't actually legally accepted.
I understand this concern. I'm imagining that there are some people out there who *thought* they were officially married, and then when they get to some event like a divorce or the death of one of the spouses, they discover they were never actually legally married, and all kinds of problems ensue.
(Please note: I'm asking this question not because I foresee a divorce or a death, but because I just want to make sure our marriage is legal!)
I'm confused as to why couples would let this happen. The Universal Life Church website is quite clear that it is important to check with your county beforehand. So my question for you all is this: When an online-ordained person goes to the county to file their credentials before the wedding (as my mother will do), and if the county accepts the certificate at the counter for it to be filed, doesn't that mean the person is in the clear? Is THAT the point where one would find out whether or not their ordination is legally recognized? I mean, if the county accepts your certificate, there would be no reason to believe that any marriages performed would not be official. If, in fact, the state did NOT accept online ordination, they would refuse to file it, right?
Further, after the wedding, once the couple receives official copies of their marriage certificate, doesn't that mean they are legally married? Is there any way the county would issue those certificates without the marriage being legally recognized? (For example, if the ordination credentials were not accepted... But then why would the state allow one to file them?)
I apologize if my question is not clear. Please let me know if you need clarification! I just want to make sure we don't go through the process of ordaining, filing my mother's credentials with the county, filling out the marriage license, and getting our marriage certificate only to find out down the line that we never really were married.