Law Change Restricts Access to Marriage License Records

Law Change Restricts Access to Marriage License Records

SWEETWATER COUNTY ­ SweetwaterNOW readers who enjoyed reading of local marriage license reports may be disappointed to learn those records are no longer available to local publications. According to Sweetwater County Clerk, Cindy Lane, the change comes from an amendment in state laws solidifying how marriage records are handled and who maintains them.

Originally, the county would issue a marriage license and provide local publications with a list of the couples who received licenses every week. This changed July 1 after laws were updated to define marriage records being the sole property of the state. This included the record books many counties maintained of marriage licenses that had been issued. She said the lists originally sent out by the office were done as a courtesy as local media would publish the lists and there was public interest in the records.

“I used to read them all the time,” Lane said.

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However, questions arose regarding if the records maintained by the county were public. Lane said there were concerns about identity thieves using the information issued by the counties, as well as concerns about the security of the records systems the counties utilized. Lane said the software used by the county wasn’t recognized by the state’s office of vital statistics as being secure to maintain records because an employee from Tyler Technologies, the company that produced and maintains the clerk’s office records software, could access the records. She said the only software suite recognized by the state is the VSS system it uses.

Lane said House Bill 248 was introduced during the legislative session earlier this year, which clarified marriage and divorce records as being solely maintained by the state. The bill quietly passed both branches of the legislature and was signed by Gov. Mark Gordon. Lane said representatives of the state’s vital statistics office later retrieved the records her office had.

“They came and picked them all up,“ she said.

She said the county now sends the information directly to the state through its VSS system.

“We don’t even keep the applications,” Lane said.

Lane said the records situation is part of a larger debate revolving around what is and is not a public record. With marriage records, the state considers them confidential until 50 years after the certificate was issued.

Despite the change in state laws, SweetwaterNOW is still interested in sharing marriage news with its readers. People can email the news team at for more information.