Back in Chiapas Victor went to three different cities to figure out what we needed to do to be legal. In true Mexican fashion, in each city we were told something different. But this was clear: a lot of paperwork (in both the U.S. and Mexico) was in the mix. When we asked friends and other couples made up of Americans and Mexicans, the advice was the same: Go to the States. Well, that’s great advice–and we’d love to do that. But we can’t…
So, instead, we began the long, drawn-out, and expensive process of making our marriage legal in Mexico. In Mexico, the civil ceremony is the only recognized legal ceremony for marriage. And it’s a hard ceremony to have… so many couples are married, but not by the law. Which is okay, unless you need official paperwork for any reason. Actual weddings will take place, but perhaps it’s easier to explain by comparing it to old days in the Appalachian area (Jumping the broom, hand-fasting, waiting around for the circuit judge to legalize your marriage).
Part One: Birth certificate for each person. While home this summer, I completed part one: Getting a birth certificate with an apostille on it. This is necessary for your birth certificate to be recognized in other countries. The request must be made via mail and check (no online ordering with your credit card). You must also write a letter explaining what you will use this apostillized birth certificate for). Victor also had to hunt his down while he was still in Chiapas. Ironically, he was ten when his birth was finally registered.
Part Two: The above mentioned pain-to-obtain birth certificate must be translated. By a licensed translator. Cha-ching! Afterwards, we visited a judge to discuss what else would be necessary for our civil ceremony. No matter who you talk to, the information changes from person to person.
Part Three: Ìmmigration approval. Well, this would have been faster if Immigration didn’t close for the holidays. We were told to return on the second. When we returned, we were told that the office would be closed until the next day. Oh, Mexico… (Actually, the guard’s exact words were, “It might be opened tomorrow, but it might not be opened until Monday.” Niiice… Upon talking to the nice Immigration lady the next day, we were informed that the law had changed! No longer is it necessary to get permission from Immigration! Woo hoo! Why didn’t the JUDGE know this?
We left Immigration looking for a new judge. Our taxi driver took us to a civil office on the way home.
Part Four: Blood tests. It’s my understanding that some states in the U.S. still require blood-work before marriage. This is a bit ridiculous for me. I would really like to hear why this is necessary. So, in the civil office we visited, they informed us that we would be required to have our blood-work done (The first judge was going to skip this step). Luckily, a laboratory that I really like was just around the corner (The Lab Tech remembered me–this is why foreigners should always be nice: your face is not just another face in the crowd…) A side benefit to having blood-work done is that we finally figured out Victor’s blood type. Hooray!
Part Five: Marriage class. This is actually required in our state. Our first judge was willing to overlook marriage class (Victor said he just wanted the money…) At this office, they forgave us this requirement due to the fact that we wanted a speedy hitching. Should we choose to wait until the next week, we would have to pay for classes. I am a bit curious about what you learn in marriage class… The divorce rate here is probably lower, but I seriously doubt it has very little to do with marriage class–most likely it is because it is a PAIN to get married in the first place!!
Part Six: Paperwork. All paperwork must be submitted eight days in advance. Well, ummm… our ceremony is scheduled for two days from now, AND our witnesses are in the U.S. This was the part that almost broke my husband down. Each of the Americans (including myself), had to submit a photocopy of their I.D and their immigration paper giving permission to be in the country. Seeing as how three of our four witnesses were American, this meant a lot of copying and collecting. Yesterday, when I was dropping off part of the paperwork, I was granted an extension on our deadline. I made Victor wait outside while I broke the bad news–it’s a lot harder telling someone they can’t get married if they’re pregnant and don’t fully understand the words coming out of your mouth…
Unfortunately, our deadline meant hoping our witness’s flight wouldn’t be delayed AND rushing with copies an hour before they were due today… Birth certificates–originals and copies, passport copies, government ID copies, blood test result copies, and the list goes on and on. Then there’s the explaining in broken Spanish what a county is, and why the name of my city is different then the county. And why my mother’s madien name is on my birth certificate, but not her married name. And why the translation doesn’t include my father’s middle name. And… gasp! Oh, well…it’s good practice for me.
Hooray! It’s done! Can I present (for the second time) my husband?