Legal Marriage Requirements
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Legal Marriage Requirements

A lot of people think legal requirements for marriage are complicated and overpowering. The fact is that after you comprehend what your state requires, the steps are straightforward, giving you more time to direct your attention on the more pleasurable aspects of getting married.

Even though marriage requirements differ state to state, every legal marriage performed in one state must be recognized by all other states. The following post answers some of the more frequently asked questions concerning legal marriage requirements.

You need to acquire a marriage license from the county clerk in your state and pay them a fee. Provide that both of you fulfill the requirements, your marriage license should be awarded. You then can progress with your ceremony. The officiate has the responsibility of filing your marriage certificate with the appropriate recording office in your county. When they fail to, it doesn’t negate or nullify your marriage; it just might make it difficult to document your marriage.

Are blood tests required to get married?

A lot of states have eliminated mandatory pre-marriage blood tests or physical exams, but some still have the requirement for blood tests for venereal diseases, and some additionally test for tuberculosis, three-day measles, and sickle-cell disease. There is not a mandatory HIV/AIDS test, but many states necessitate that marriage license applicants be provided with such tests or information on testing sites.

Am I able to marry anyone I want?

  • Age: A lot of states require that both parties to be eighteen or older for entering a marriage. Many states permit minors above a specific age to get married with parental and/or judicial approval. Minors in those states are usually prohibited to marry adults that are more than 3 to 4 years older as a means to impede minors from getting into predatory marriages.
  • Marital standing: Those that are already married, even having a legal separation, cannot get married until they have officially got divorced.
  • Mental competence: Each soon to be spouse must have the mental competence to enter into a marital disorder. When either party cannot or does not comprehend what being married is due to mental illness, drugs and/or alcohol, or other concerns that impact judgment, then that person is lacking the mental competence to agree to the marriage.
  • Unrelated: The two parties cannot be blood relatives. Oftentimes they cannot be closer than 3rd cousins. A lot of states enable first cousins to get married when they are of an older age and no longer can conceive.
  • Gender: Same-sex marriages became legal in every state immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s milestone Obergefell v. Hodges ruling in 2015. Before that ruling, same-sex marriages were left up to state law.

What’s the disparity between marriage licenses and marriage certificates?

Marriage licenses are documents that you must acquire from the county clerk prior to getting married. The certificate is a document that confirms you’re married.

Usually, couples acquire a marriage license, carry out the marriage ceremony, and then have the officiate file the certificate in the relative county office in a couple of days. The married couple is going to then receive a certified copy of their marriage certificate.

Many states require each spouse, the officiate, and 1 to 2 witnesses, to sign the marriage certificate. This is usually performed following the ceremony.

Where do I get my marriage license?

You can typically apply for your marriage license at any county clerk’s office in the state in which you wish to be married in. A lot of states require a small fee and acquiring your marriage license normally takes a couple of days.

Commonly, your marriage license is going to expire 30 days following its issuance. when this happens, don’t fret; you are still able to apply for a new one. Nevertheless, a lot of states implicate a waiting period from the date of the issuance of the license until the date of the actual ceremony. The concept behind the waiting period is to enables the soon to be spouses to change their minds. This waiting period can be renounced for good cause, like if one of the parties is being deployed, or only coming into town the day prior to the wedding. The below states have waiting periods:

  • One day waiting period: Delaware, South Carolina, Illinois
  • Two day waiting period: New York, Maryland
  • Three day waiting period: Alaska, Florida, Indiana, New Hampshire Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington
  • Five day waiting period: Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin

What Happens if I lose my marriage certificate?

Each state varies on the steps it takes to get copies of marriage certificates. Go to the website of the National Center for Health Statistics to discover where in your state you can call, write, fax, or e-mail for the documentation you need. There’s usually a fee, around $5 to $10.

Is anyone able to officiate a marriage?

The answer is no. The officiate is required to be qualified by the county. Nevertheless, civil unions, in which are non-spiritual, are carried out by a judge, judicial officer, or a court clerk. Often, people are going to be given brief legal authority to carry out marriages by a judge or a court clerk. Weddings that are spiritual ceremonies are carried out by a clergy member This is typically a priest, pastor, or rabbi. Native American tribes can appoint certain leaders to carry out weddings, but generally the tribal chief carries out the weddings.

Are we required to do anything following the wedding?

There are no legal requirements for marriage following the ceremony in many states. Some states require marriage consummation through sexual intercourse, usually. A lot of states view the two married following the ending of the ceremony.

In other states, it is the duty of the officiate to be sure the license gets recorded with the county in which you were married. Usually, a couple of weeks following your wedding, you are going to receive your marriage certificate through the mail. Even should the officiate fail to file the marriage certificate, you’re still deemed married.

Need assistance meeting marriage requirements? Speak with an Attorney

Marriage is one of the more important relationships that you can get into. Together with the enjoyment of marrying your partner, you need to also be weary of the rights and legal obligations that come with it. When you have questions concerning marriage requirements, it’s beneficial to go over the matter with a family law attorney that can assist you in taking the required steps.


  1. Staff, F. L. (2020, August 25). Legal marriage requirements faqs. Findlaw. Retrieved July 21, 2022, from

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