Marriage Certificate Requirements
In 2019, the state of Alabama made significant changes to its marriage laws under Act 2019-340. This act brought about substantial modifications to the marriage process, eliminating the need for a marriage license and requiring all probate courts to record marriage certificates. This article will explore the changes brought about by Alabama Act 2019-340 and discuss the new requirements and procedures for couples who wish to get married in Alabama.
The End of Marriage Licenses
Under the provisions of Alabama Act 2019-340, individuals seeking to marry are no longer required to apply for a marriage license through the county probate court. This marked a departure from the traditional approach to marriage, where obtaining a license was a crucial step in the process. The act now replaces the marriage license with a marriage certificate, which serves as a contractual agreement between the parties to the marriage.
The Role of Alabama Probate Courts
With the elimination of marriage licenses, all Alabama probate courts are now tasked with recording marriage certificates. Once the couple completes the marriage certificate and delivers it to the probate court for recording, the marriage becomes valid. The significance of this change is that a wedding ceremony can be performed for the parties, but solemnization is no longer required for a recognized marriage in Alabama.
The Process of Obtaining a Marriage Certificate
Obtaining a marriage certificate under Alabama Act 2019-340 involves a specific process that couples must follow. Here are the steps to obtain a marriage certificate:
Obtain the Marriage Certificate Form
Couples must obtain a standardized marriage certificate form provided by the state, county probate judge’s office, or online. The form requests basic information about each spouse, similar to the information previously required for a marriage license.
Complete the Form
Both parties must fully complete the marriage certificate form, providing accurate and truthful information about themselves.
Witness Signatures by a Notary
The completed form must be taken to a notary to witness the signatures of both parties. Notary services for the form are not provided by the probate office.
Submitting the Form
After the form is notarized, the original, fully completed, and notarized form should be delivered to the county probate judge’s office for recording. A filing fee, which varies by county, is required along with the form. It is essential to submit the form within 30 days of being signed.
Effective Date of Marriage
The effective date of the marriage is the latter of the dates of the spouses’ signatures on the marriage certificate.
Identification and Residency Requirements
To obtain a marriage certificate in Alabama, couples must fulfill specific identification requirements. The following forms of identification are acceptable:
- A valid driver’s license
- Non-Driver’s license
- A copy of the birth certificate certified by the state or county
- A military identification
- A certified school record
For individuals aged 16 to 17, additional requirements apply, and they must have the consent of a parent or guardian to enter into marriage.
Waiting Period and Previous Marriages
There is generally no waiting period in Alabama for obtaining a marriage certificate, except for cases involving a recent divorce. After a divorce is finalized, there is a 60-day waiting period before remarriage is permitted.
For individuals who were divorced within the last six months, a copy of the divorce decree is required to be presented as per Alabama Code Section 30-2-10.
Marriage Officiants and Proxy Marriages
Solemnization is no longer required for a recognized marriage in Alabama. The act does not permit proxy marriages, meaning no other party may apply for a marriage on behalf of either spouse.
Cousin Marriages and Common Law Marriages
Alabama allows first and second cousins to marry legally. The state also recognizes common law marriages if certain conditions are met, including capacity to enter into a marriage, mutual agreement, public recognition, and consummation.
Expiration Date of Marriage Certificates
Marriage certificates are valid for 30 days from the date of being signed. The effective date of the marriage is the latter of the dates of the spouses’ signatures.
Alabama Act 2019-340 brought about significant changes to the marriage process in the state. With the elimination of marriage licenses, couples are now required to complete a marriage certificate form and have it recorded by the probate court. This streamlined approach aims to simplify the marriage process and ensure that all marriages in Alabama are properly recorded and legally recognized.
- Do couples still need to apply for a marriage license in Alabama? No, under Alabama Act 2019-340, marriage licenses are no longer required. Couples must complete a marriage certificate form and have it recorded by the probate court.
- Can a wedding ceremony be performed without solemnization? Yes, Alabama no longer requires solemnization for a recognized marriage.
- What identification is required to obtain a marriage certificate in Alabama? Acceptable forms of identification include a valid driver’s license, passport, non-driver’s license, certified birth certificate, military identification, or certified school record.
- Is there a waiting period to obtain a marriage certificate in Alabama? Generally, there is no waiting period, except for cases involving recent divorces. In such cases, there is a 60-day waiting period.
- Are cousin marriages legal in Alabama? Yes, first and second cousins may legally marry in Alabama.