Sorry if this is the wrong place but I'm concerned for my friend and want some advice.

My friend is from the UK, has a Colombian GF, they are due to get hitched very soon. However, he has told me that the wedding is taking place via someone acting on his behalf in Colombia with a Power of Attorney.

I've never heard of this sort of thing before, it could be completely normal but it feels dodgy.

Should I be concerned?

  • Are you sure this is a Power of Attorney and not just a proxy for him at the ceremony? – Studoku Nov 27 '20 at 21:08
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    Proxy weddings are permitted in some jurisdictions. I don't know about Colombia. – phoog Nov 27 '20 at 21:20
  • It is possible that he has confused a proxy with POA...generally speaking though, is this a normal state of affairs? (apologies I have zero marriage law knowledge) – Earz Morgan Nov 27 '20 at 21:51
  • @EarzMorgan 2020 is not a normal state of affairs. It's quite likely that COVID-related restrictions caused this. – Studoku Nov 27 '20 at 23:24
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    This is law, not Personal Finance & Money, but I’ll ask anyway: is this a girlfriend that he has had a real-life relationship with or a girl he met on the internet? – Damila Nov 28 '20 at 4:52

Marriage by proxy is authorized in a small number of jurisdictions, mostly for active duty military service members who have been deployed, but more likely what is going on is something somewhat different. (Ten U.S. states allowed them in some circumstances as of 1970 according to a CIA memo released in 2002).

In the country of Colombia, civil marriage is normally concluded by notarial act, i.e. by having both parties sign a document before a notary (which is a legally trained professional and custodian of public records and not just a signature verifier) if the notary is satisfactorily convinced that all of the requirements of Colombian law for the couple to marry have been satisfied.

It isn't obvious that both spouses must sign the document marrying them at the same time. According to the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, in practice, different notaries interpret the formal requirements in different ways:

Civil weddings are performed by a Colombian official known as a notary (called a notario in Spanish). Notary offices are located throughout Colombia and are plentiful in large cities. Your first step should be to contact a notary to discuss required documents and other procedures. Many notaries have websites with helpful information. Alternatively, you or your fiancé(e) can call or visit one in person.

Because Colombian marriage laws leave room for interpretation, marriage requirements sometimes vary from notary to notary. Once you select a notary, it is important to find out what he or she will request. You can use any notary, so if yours makes unrealistic demands, you may want to contact another one.

In all cases, the notary will likely require certified copies of both spouses’ birth certificates. For birth certificates issued in the United States, you will need to obtain a Spanish-language translation of the document, as well as an apostille.

Both spouses will also be asked to present proof that they are eligible to marry — in other words, that they are not currently married. For a Colombian citizen, this is a relatively simple matter of requesting a copy of his or her civil registration, a document issued by the Colombian National Registry that indicates marital status. No such document exists in many jurisdictions in the United States, however, and most U.S. citizens will therefore have to discuss with the notary what substitutes will be acceptable. Some notaries may allow you to present signed, notarized letters from friends or family, swearing that you are unmarried. If prepared in the United States, these notarized letters would have to be accompanied by a Spanish-language translation and an apostille.

So, it isn't unthinkable that something along these lines may be allowed. But, it would be wise to confirm this with a reliable local source in Colombia.

Inquiries elsewhere on the Internet indicate that proxy marriages are conducted in Colombia although getting Colombian officials to recognize them can sometimes require extra work.

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