PITTSFIELD, Ill. — Getting a marriage license in Pike County just got easier.

The county clerk’s office expanded its online services this month to include marriage licenses — and other West-Central Illinois counties soon may be following them down the aisle.

“You could apply for a marriage license at 2 in the morning if you wanted to, and we would get it at 8:30 when we walked in the door,” Pike County Clerk Natalie Roseberry said. “For people that travel or are on the road, you’re not stuck trying to get the bride and groom in one spot at one time coordinated with our office. You can do it on your schedule. You can do it from California if you wanted to.”

The process, from start to finish, can be done from home without needing to visit the county office.

Couples start the marriage application online, wait for the clerk’s office to reach out and schedule a video call and then finish the process remotely with digital signatures and efficient data verification.

“It should go very, very smoothly,” Deputy Clerk Jenny Presley said. “It’s easy access for people at home, not just because of COVID but that really pushed us into it.”

Roseberry said Pike County is piloting the online marriage license process for Fidlar Technologies, which provides other online services for her office and for the county.

“We’ve been working on the software together since November and are just now rolling it out,” Roseberry said. “It’s kind of in its infancy of rollout, and the last phase is functionality. We’re waiting for somebody to do it at this point to identify a little more about the specific processes and how to tweak them.”

An uptick in marriage licenses in the county during COVID-19 spurred the online process.

“With a lot of our marriages, individuals were in the high-risk age. We were trying to figure out a way legally to be able to get them the certificate they need and keep everybody as remote as possible,” Roseberry said.

Helping Fidlar develop the online marriage license process through its APEX software was a perfect fit. “They just wanted to get a county willing to pilot it for them,” Presley said.

Pike County already works with Fidlar to offer online recording services and searches.

“The public can search from home any document they want. That was never available before. It used to be just available to recording companies, title companies, but now anybody can sit at home on the couch at 2 a.m. and pull up their deed,” Roseberry said.

More than two decades of records already are available online, with plans to add more. “It will be about a 10-year process to get all of our documents online and available,” Roseberry said.

The online records will be a valuable resource for people researching family history or property history. “Before they would have to come here or call us,” Roseberry said. “Now they can explore on their own. It empowers individuals, gives them more control over their own information.”

Other area counties either are looking at the online marriage license option or planning to offer it.

“We are not set up for it at this time, but we will be later this year I’m sure,” Brown County Clerk Judy Ham said. “As soon as they get us on their schedule to get that program, we’ll have it. We’ve already approved it.”

Adams County Clerk Ryan Niekamp plans to meet with Fidlar in a couple of weeks for a demonstration of its services.

Making marriage licenses available online is “really applicable to 2021,” Niekamp said. “I always keep my mind open when it comes to new services for the taxpayers.”

Hancock County is starting to work with Fidlar to offer online services, possibly including marriage licenses.

“It’s something I’m willing to explore, but I haven’t decided which way we’re going to go yet,” County Clerk Holly Wilde-Tillman said. “I need to see more of it in action. I need to be more familiar with the program and how it’s going to work in our office.”

Presley said the online process provides another option for couples planning to marry.

“They can come in and do from the very beginning of the process in person with us. They can fill out the application process at home, submit all the information to us, then come in. When they apply online, they can select to do a Zoom,” Presley said. “It’s so much more convenient for everybody.”

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