If marriage is in the plans for you, there is something you cannot overlook: getting a marriage license. Without that, you can’t get married. A marriage license is a document that is issued by a state authority or church that allows the couple to get married. Typically here in the United States, the process of obtaining a marriage license is done in person from their county clerks office within the county you plan on getting married. The below guide will explain what you need to know when getting a marriage license.
What is the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate?
A marriage license is a government document that is required before a couple can tie the knot and marry. Typically the couple apply for these license at the county clerk by setting up an appointment and filling out the proper paper work. The cost can be from $30.00 to over $130.00 which will depend on your states application fee.
A marriage licensee just means you are allowed to proceed with the marriage and wed. This license does not mean you are married.
During the ceremony of the marriage, the couple will sign the marriage license along with officiant and a witness. Usually its 2 witnesses.
From this point, the marriage license will need to be mailed back to the county clerk’s office where it is recorded and becomes a public record.
A marriage certificate is a government public record that proves the couple is indeed married legally. After a couple sends back their marriage licensee, they will get back a marriage certificate.
This usually takes a few weeks to get back. Keep in mind that most states will require that you ask for a copy of the marriage certificate. This can be done by contacting your clerk of courts to send you a copy. You can typically do this online. If not, you can call the clerks office directly.
What’s typically on a marriage certificate?
- Who got married, first and last names
- When the marriage took place
- Where the marriage took place
- The officiant that performed the marriage
If you are going to change your last name then you will need a certified copy of the marriage certificate to do so along with other reasons you may need this certificate it is smart to properly keep a marriage certificate in a safe place in the event you may need it.
Common Law Marriage
Common law marriage is not documented like a traditional marriage would be. Typically a common law marriage refers to a couple that has lived together for a certain time frame that would make it a legal union which possessions are considered to be shared.
Typically a common law marriage isn’t recognized until something like child support or assets need to be divided. There are certain states that do recognize common law marriages. You can learn more about that be going here.
How to find marriage certificates
Marriage certificate for people other than the couple that own the certificates are not easy to obtain. Unless you meet all the obligations to get the marriage certificate. There are more than just marriage certificates that can be found when searching for vital records. Users can find birth records, divorce documents and more when doing a vital search online.
Use a search service to help find vital records
The use of a search service can help find vital records with just a simple name search. The system will search thousands of data points from federal, state, and county resources. This is a fast method and a great place to start because it saves time and its relatively cheap.
Search usa.gov to find vital records. They have a great resource to help find and replace all types of vital records. Including marriage. you can find more about how to do this by accessing the site by following the information below.
National Center for Health Statistics
You can find all the information you need by accessing the NCHS for vital data. The below link will provide state and territory information. Click on your state to see exactly how you can get vital records and what the cost would be. Follow the link below.