Starting Monday, ceremonies in Cook County’s downtown Marriage Court can be performed by Zoom

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(Photo by Leslie Muhammad)

Marriage and civil union ceremonies at Cook County’s downtown Marriage and Civil Union Court (Marriage Court) may be performed via Zoom video conference, as well as in person, starting next week, according to a court order issued on Friday.

Except for court holidays, Zoom teleconference ceremonies shall be scheduled Mondays and Tuesdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. every 15 minutes and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon., according to the order issued on Friday by the Hon. Diann K. Marsalek, Acting Presiding Judge of Marriage Court and of the Traffic Division. The couple shall present the marriage or civil union license issued by the Cook County Clerk together with the required $10 fee for the ceremony to the marriage clerk in the Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark St., Lower Level, Chicago at least 48 hours in advance of the Zoom ceremony.

In-person ceremonies shall be held Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and noon and 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; on Fridays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and noon. In-person ceremonies have been held throughout the pandemic.

A valid marriage license or civil union license must first be obtained by the couple from the Cook County Clerk. Couples should call the marriage clerk at 312-603-4550 to schedule the ceremony, and must tell the clerk whether they want it conducted by Zoom teleconference, telephone, or in person. All ceremonies must be scheduled in advance with the clerk. Marriage or civil union ceremonies for which a member of the couple is in active military service shall be scheduled on an expedited basis. If a couple needs the assistance of an interpreter for the ceremony, they must request interpreter services when making the appointment. Ceremonies will be limited to 20 per day.

For in-person celebrations, all persons entering Marriage Court at 118 N. Clark Street, Lower Level, must use the LaSalle Street or Clark Street entrance. Dates are currently booked through May, but the marriage clerk is taking appointments through July. The clerk is not scheduling Cultural Center ceremonies.

Due to social distancing precautions, only the couple and two guests are permitted to be physically present during an in-person ceremony, and only 16 individuals are allowed to enter the lower level for Marriage Court at any given time. All individuals must wear masks at all times in Marriage Court.

The Circuit Court of Cook County has conducted multiple other kinds of civil and criminal proceedings by Zoom teleconference as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom marriage ceremonies already have been performed at other courthouses, including the Maywood Courthouse and in other counties.

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