The Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) updated oral advice to reflect a change in the law allowing compensation for solemnizing a marriage.

In December 2016, CJEO issued oral advice discussing an amendment to the Family Code that was effective January 1, 2017, and that prohibited all of those authorized to perform marriages, including judicial officers, from accepting a fee or gratuity for performing marriages. (Family Code § 400.)

CJEO Oral Advice Summary 2016-019 explained that although the Code of Judicial Ethics and the Penal Code permitted judges to accept a fee for performing marriages on the weekends and legal holidays, judges were prohibited by the new legislation from doing so even though it was inconsistent with other laws, canons, and long standing practice.

The Legislature acted quickly to resolve the inconsistency and again amended the Family Code to allow judicial officers to accept reasonable fees for marriages performed on weekends and legal holidays. The most recent legislation was effective July 10, 2017, and CJEO Oral Advice Summary 2016-019 has been updated to reflect these facts.

Justice Ron Robie CJEO Chair
Justice Ron Robie, CJEO Chair

 

"Now that the Legislature has reconciled the conflicting statutes, judges are again authorized by law to accept fees for performing marriages on the weekends and holidays. It's important for the bench to know about the change and that fees can again be accepted for this celebratory after-hours work."

CJEO summarizes the oral advice it provides and posts the summaries on the CJEO website for the benefit of the bench and the public.