On Monday, July 15, 2002, a new bill on marriage licenses went into effect. The senate increased the price of a marriage license in Tennessee by $62.50. However, if couples complete and affidavit of non-residency or participate in premarital preparation courses, they are exempt from the fee.
The major change with the license is the recommendation of a premarital class that will decrease the cost.
Missi McMurray, supervisor of the marriage license department said that the counseling has to take place within one year prior to the planned wedding date.
Several area churches already require a premarital counseling class prior to allowing a couple to marry in their church. “It can be your pastor, youth director, or an elder,” McMurray said.

The additional fees will be allocated to different departments. According to the bill, fees will be allocated as follows:
$7 will go to fund parenting plan requirements, the divorcing parent and education mediation fund.

$15 goes to the Department of Children’s Services for child abuse prevention

$7.50 will be given to the Office of Criminal Justice for domestic violence services

$20.50 will be given to the Tennessee Disability Coalition, which offers services to families and children with disabilities

$1.50 will be given to the Tennessee Court Appointed Special Advocates Association

$4.00 will be given to the department of education for grants to Tennessee Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs for the “Project Learn” after-school program.

$3.00 will be given to the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association for Social Workers
$1.75 will be given to Weems Academy for foster-care children

$2.50 will go to the county clerk’s office for performing the duties required under the bill.

Sevier County is quite a popular place for weddings. However, local chapel owners aren’t worried about the bill affecting their business. Shauna Chapman, who represents both Smokey Ridge Wedding Chapel and Mountain Mist Wedding Chapel, said that prices will not be reduced to off set the new charge. “All prices will stay the same. Our tourists will still come to get married here. I think it will effect residents more than anything.”

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