05
Jan

Why An Unsworn Declaration In Texas Is Insufficient And Cannot Be Used In Place Of An Absentee Affidavit…

Every few months I run into someone telling me “the law library said they won’t notarize an absentee affidavit and that he or she should use an Unsworn Declaration.” Well folks, an Unsworn Declaration will not be accepted by the county clerk to purchase a marriage license. 

Explaining the necessity of a notary to law libraries continues to be tricky but stay calm. Why? If an Unsworn Declaration is insufficient, a notary request will be granted. However, remember that explaining why the Unsworn Declaration is insufficient is necessary in order to get that I60 Request For Notary Approved. 

Most often, the clerk is new or unaware of the necessary documents needed in order to obtain the marriage license. 

Many of our clients in other states wish they could use an absentee affidavit. Why? Because the expense of transporting an inmate to the clerks office is a tremendous financial burden. 

Only Texas allows the use of an Absentee Affidavit to obtain a marriage license. The absentee affidavit “explains the absence of the other party.” Traditionally, both parties are required to be present to purchase a marriage license. The Absentee Affidavit removes this requirement. 

Let’s review what inmates are and aren’t allowed in terms of law library and notary access… 

NUMBER: DATE: PAGE: SUPERSEDES:

BP-03.81 (rev. 4)

August 21, 2019

1 of 17

BP-03.81 (rev. 3) December 15, 2017

RULES GOVERNING OFFENDER ACCESS TO THE COURTS, COUNSEL, AND PUBLIC OFFICIALS

IV. Notary Public Services (page 8)

A. Documents: Under both federal law (28 U.S.C. § 1746) and state law (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 132.001), offenders incarcerated in Texas may use an unsworn declaration under penalty of perjury in place of a written declaration, verification, certification, oath, or affidavit sworn before a notary public. Documents will continue to require notary public service if they are destined for another state or country requiring notary public service, notarization is requested by an attorney, or they are specifically exempted from the laws on unsworn declarations.

B. Scheduling: Offenders may request notary public service by submitting an I-60 to the unit ATC supervisor. Offenders requesting notary public service shall explain why an unsworn declaration will not be legally sufficient. Requests shall be acted upon, either denied or provided, within three business days of the receipt of the request.

The absentee affidavit specifically states that Unsworn Declarations will not be accepted… 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING AN ABSENTEE AFFIDAVIT PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The Absentee Affidavit is to be completed if an applicant is unable to appear personally before the County Clerk to apply for a marriage license. The other applicant may apply for a marriage license on behalf of the absent applicant.

The affidavit will be denied if both parties desiring to marry are not in full compliance with the information that follows. The absent party must complete every blank and sign the affidavit. 

In addition, the absent party’s signature must be acknowledged and notarized. 

Photocopies or faxed copies will not be accepted. Unsworn declarations are not accepted. Read that again. UNSWORN DECLARATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. 

1. Print or type all information that is requested on the application. No white-out or obvious alterations will be accepted.

2. The names of both parties must be printed or typed EXACTLY as they appear on the identification that will be used to obtain the marriage license.

3. With the exception of the other applicant, a person may only act as a proxy if they are an adult, 18 or older, and the absent applicant is unable to attend the marriage ceremony and is a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in another country in support of combat or another military operation.

4. There is a 72-hour waiting period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license unless waived by a court order or proof of active military status.

5. The marriage ceremony must be conducted within 90 days from the date the marriage license is issued or it will expire.

6. An acceptable form of valid, government issued picture identification must be presented by the present party with one of the following for the absent applicant:

-Certified copy of birth certificate. -Valid driver’s license.

-Military id.

-Valid passport.

-Naturalization papers

PHOTOCOPIES OF ID ARE NOT ACCEPTED. NO ALTERED DOCUMENTS AS PROOF OF ID WILL BE ACCEPTED.

7. The absentee affidavit expires 30 days from date of signing.

Because I’ve been traveling the past few weeks for Destination Events in California, our office was closed during the holidays and I’ve been trying to catch up on emails, DM’s and mail as well as questions regarding law libraries and the Unsworn Declarations. Generally, I answer emails sent between 6AM and 9PM every few hours. If you are emailing or direct messaging me after 9PM, I will answer you between 6 and 7AM the following day. Running from airport to airport and event to event, it should be noted that if you don’t hear back from me within an hour, I’m on location with another client. 

Please be patient as I have clients for not only inmate Officiant services in several states but also clients from Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners and venues that I’m on staff at. 

Returning your calls, emails, texts and DM’s as soon as possible is important to me but, I work seven days a week and travel nearly everyday. If it’s been a few hours and you haven’t heard from me though I’m either on the road, on location with another client or on a plane traveling to another client. You can rest assured that I will get back to you as soon as possible. Many of you have asked about transportation to your event. A&M Transportation offers transportation and I know her well. She is based in Houston though. If you are based in Dallas and seeking transportation, I have several current and former clients that drive for Lyft or Uber. 

Occasionally I use a driver myself but my driver, Kevin has been with me for twenty years now but he isn’t inexpensive. His rates run from $90- $120 an hour with a two hour minimum so I would strongly suggest finding another option aside from my driver such as A&M, Lyft, Uber, or Greyhound. 

My booking fee does not include your transportation to the Unit. Sorry. I’m based in Fort Worth and cannot commit to picking up and dropping off clients because they have no transportation. 

Meaning.. I cannot drive to your location then to the Unit then back to my own location for free. No one can. My fee is based on distance from my location to the Unit. Please be aware of transportation to the Unit being at your own expense.

I’ve been asked about stacking Units. This frequent occurrence generally happens in other states due to travel expenses. By stacking several clients, my travel expenses are equally distributed to make services affordable in other states. It would be incredibly expensive for me to fly to Ohio for one Unit wedding and due to my schedule and existing clients also unworkable.

Occasionally in Texas, I can move from Unit to Unit on the same day based on the distance between Units. If I can’t and I’m already booked at a Unit on the date given, a reschedule is warranted. I can’t be in two places at the same time. I limit bookings in order to keep a flexible schedule. If you haven’t retained services and used my name to obtain a date and are calling me after the fact, I will contact the Unit and reschedule. I do not bump existing clients for anyone not following my booking procedures. Period.

Bridal or Groom Photography is offered as a courtesy to prison or jail clients only. Texas Twins Events and Pawning Planners Clients pay for photography. Why? Because inmate wedding photos are taken by me after or before the ceremony with my rolling photo booths and are mini shoots taking 15-30 minutes. Traditional bookings and photography require 1-3 hours on location and an hourly fee. 

Many Texas Units offer photos at $3 each. I will buy three Unit photos. If you wish to purchase more, bring $3 for each additional photo.

Jail weddings also require an absentee affidavit. Jails do not have law libraries. Mobile notaries are at the clients expense. Obtaining your marriage license is entirely at your own expense. 

If you wish to take the Twogether In Texas Course, the fee is $29 for an online class and I can send you the link. This course waives the 3 day waiting period and discounts the marriage license by $60 but you must present the certificate when buying the license.