Marriage Certificate Requirements
In Alabama, significant changes were made under Act 2019-340, transforming the process of obtaining a marriage certificate. The act abolished the requirement to file an application for a marriage license with the county probate court, and instead, all Alabama probate courts now record marriage certificates. This article aims to provide a detailed guide to the new Alabama Marriage Certificate process, covering its requirements, documents, and other essential information for couples looking to get married in the state.
The Alabama Marriage Certificate
The Contractual Agreement
The Alabama Marriage Certificate represents a contractual agreement between the parties to the marriage, completed by both individuals and delivered to the probate court for recording. Once properly completed and recorded, the marriage becomes legally valid.
Solemnization No Longer Required
Under the new act, a wedding ceremony may still be performed for the parties, but solemnization is no longer a legal requirement for a recognized marriage in Alabama. The focus has shifted to the completion and recording of the marriage certificate.
Marriage Certificate Requirements
Obtaining the Marriage Certificate Form
Couples must obtain a standardized marriage certificate form provided by the state, county probate judge’s office, or available online. It is essential to use the correct and updated form to avoid any complications during the process.
Completing the Form
Both spouses must fully complete the marriage certificate form, providing basic information about each other as required. The accuracy of the provided information is crucial, as any errors or omissions may lead to delays or complications.
Notarization and Submission
Once the form is completed, the spouses need to take it to a notary to witness their signatures. Notary services are not provided by the Probate Office, so couples must ensure this step is completed before submission.
The original, fully completed, and notarized form, along with the filing fee specific to the county, must be delivered to the county Probate Judge’s office for recording. The submission must occur within 30 days of the form being signed to ensure the marriage’s validity.
Effective Date of the Marriage
The effective date of the marriage is determined by the latter of the dates when the spouses sign the certificate. This date becomes the official start of the marriage’s legal recognition.
Forms for Adult and Minor Applicants
Different forms are used for adult applicants aged 18 and above, and minor applicants aged 16-17 who require the consent of a parent or guardian to enter into marriage.
Verification with the County Probate Office
Before making a trip to purchase a marriage certificate, it is crucial to verify all information with the local County Probate office to ensure compliance with the current requirements.
Marriage ID Requirements
To obtain a marriage certificate in Alabama, applicants aged 18 or older must present one of the following forms of identification along with their Social Security card:
- A valid driver’s license
- Non-Driver’s license
- A copy of their birth certificate certified by the State or County
- A military identification
- A certified school record
If applicants have been divorced, they must not apply for a license within 60 days after their divorce was granted, unless they are remarrying their former spouse.
Marriage Residency Requirement
There is no residency requirement in Alabama, meaning couples do not have to be residents of the state to obtain a marriage certificate.
Marriage Waiting Period Requirement
Alabama does not have a waiting period for obtaining a marriage certificate, except for cases after a divorce. After being divorced, there is a 60-day waiting period before applying for a new marriage license.
However, non-residents who wish to be married by a county marriage official may have to wait for three days. It is best to contact the County Probate office to verify whether a waiting period is applicable.
If an applicant was divorced within the last 6 months of their wedding date, they will need to show a copy of their Divorce Decree. Alabama law states a sixty (60) day restriction on getting married after a divorce.
Marriage Certificate Fee
The marriage certificate fee in Alabama varies by county. It is essential for couples to inquire about the specific fee in their county before submitting the form.
Marriage Blood Test
A premarital blood test is no longer required in Alabama, simplifying the process of obtaining a marriage certificate.
Obtaining a marriage certificate with a new name does not automatically change one’s name. To change the last name, individuals can use an online marriage name change kit.
Marriage Age Requirements
For minor parties aged 16 to 17 years, special marriage certificate forms are required, along with the consent of a parent or guardian to enter into marriage. The necessary instructions for completing and filing these forms are included.
For individuals aged 18 and over, the standard marriage certificate form applies.
Proxy marriages are not permitted in Alabama. Therefore, no other party may apply on behalf of either spouse.
First and second cousins may legally marry in Alabama.
Common Law Marriages
A valid common law marriage exists in Alabama when certain conditions are met, such as capacity to enter into a marriage, present agreement or consent to be husband and wife, public recognition of the existence of the marriage, and consummation.
As mentioned earlier, solemnization is no longer required for a recognized marriage in Alabama. Couples have the freedom to have a wedding ceremony, but it is no longer a legal necessity.
Expiration Date of Marriage Certificate
Marriage certificates in Alabama are valid for 30 days from the date of being signed. The effective date of the marriage is determined by the latter of the dates of the spouses’ signatures.
Obtaining a Copy of Marriage Certificate
For those in need of a copy of their marriage certificate, they can contact the Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, located at 434 Monroe St., Montgomery, Alabama 36130-3017. The contact information is as follows:
- Phone: 334.613.5300
- Fax: 334.240.3097
The Alabama Act 2019-340 brought about significant changes in the process of obtaining a marriage certificate in the state. With the elimination of the marriage license application and the introduction of the marriage certificate, the focus shifted to the completion and recording of the contractual agreement. It is crucial for couples to follow the outlined requirements carefully to ensure a smooth and legally recognized marriage in Alabama.
- Q: Is a wedding ceremony required for a recognized marriage in Alabama? A: No, under the new act, solemnization is no longer a legal requirement for a recognized marriage.
- Q: Are proxy marriages allowed in Alabama? A: No, proxy marriages are not permitted in the state.
- Q: Is a premarital blood test required to obtain a marriage certificate? A: No, Alabama no longer requires a premarital blood test.
- Q: Can first cousins legally marry in Alabama? A: Yes, first and second cousins may legally marry in the state.
- Q: What is the expiration date of a marriage certificate in Alabama? A: Marriage certificates are valid for 30 days from the date of being signed.