Marriage Requirements in General

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The first step in getting married is for the couple to apply for a license at the clerk/recorder for their county.  This can be done live or online.  Then the couple must appear at the clerk’s office to pick up the license, or if the couple had applied in person, the license can be sent by mail. 

Many states required a 0-5 day “cooling off” period, to give the couple time to think it over. Applicants must be over 18, or obtain a guardian’s permission.  They must be unmarried, and have proof of divorce or annulment.  Applicants do not need to be citizens of the United States or a state resident. 

A blood test or physical test is no longer required in many states.  Immunization records may be required, as a baby can be affected.  The couple must have sufficient mental capacity to understand what they are doing, and not be close relatives. 

The license merely allows the couple to get married.  It still must be signed by a “solemnization authority” within 30-90 days, depending on the state.  This is someone that the state recognizes as being in a position of authority and responsibility such as a priest, or minister of any religion, or a judge, justice, or magistrate. 

There must be 1 or 2 witnesses to the wedding ceremony in most states.  Afterwards, the solemnization authority will sign the marriage license and send it back to the county clerk.  Then, the office will generate a marriage certificate, or in some states the certificate will be given to the couple after the ceremony. 

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Last Modified: 02-08-2012 02:42 PM PST

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