The cost of a marriage license in Prince George's County was incorrectly reported in The Maryland Weekly last week. The General Assembly raised the license fee from $3 to $10 this year, and the county government is collecting another $15 for the care and protection of battered spouses. This adds up to $25.
The Prince George's County Council voted unanimously last week to raise the cost of a marriage license from $3 to $18 and to use the extra $15 to help fund battered spouse and domestic violence programs. Most of the expected $90,000 a year in additional revenue will contribute to opening and operating a county home for abused spouses in the former Brentwood Elementary School.
Renovations on the school building are scheduled to begin in August and the center could open by the end of the year. The home will have room for about 26 women and children, most of whom would stay between three and six days, according to James W. Hubbard, chairman of the county's Commission for Women.
Hubbard said about 700 cases of spouse abuse were reported in Prince George's last year, the second highest number in the state, exceeded only by Baltimore City. He estimated that seven times as many cases went unreported.
But despite high levels of spouse abuse, the county, unlike every other Maryland jurisdiction except Cecil County, has no home for battered spouses. "This is something that we've had on the burner for a very long time," Hubbard said after the council vote. "There are a lot of programs ready to start. . . . We just went over the hump today."
He said he hopes some of the money will be used to operate group therapy and abusers' and children's programs within the home. The home will be run as a private, nonprofit organization and will be called the Family Crisis Center. The Center already has raised about $10,000 through private "memberships," Hubbard said.
Marriage licenses in Prince George's now cost $3 for Maryland residents and $4 for residents of other states. Last year, the county issued 6,428 marriage licenses.