Marriage Certificate Requirements
Marriage is a sacred union between two individuals, and obtaining a marriage certificate is an essential step in formalizing this commitment. In Alabama, the process of obtaining a marriage certificate has undergone significant changes, and it’s important to understand the new requirements and procedures. In this article, we will delve into the details of the marriage certificate process in Alabama, covering the application process, fees, age requirements, and more.
Changes in Alabama’s Marriage Certificate Process
In the past, individuals wishing to get married in Alabama had to apply for a marriage license from the county probate court. However, under Alabama Act 2019-340, this process has been eliminated, and all Alabama probate courts are now required to record marriage certificates. This means that instead of a marriage license, couples will complete a standardized marriage certificate form, which will be recorded by the probate court, making the marriage legally valid.
Marriage Certificate Application Process
Legal Age with Parental Consent: 16
In Alabama, individuals who are at least 16 years old can marry with parental consent. This means that if a person is between the ages of 16 and 18 and wishes to get married, they must obtain consent from their parents or legal guardians.
Legal Age without Parental Consent: 18
For individuals aged 18 and above, parental consent is not required to marry in Alabama. They can apply for a marriage certificate independently.
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Alabama recognizes and allows same-sex marriages, granting equal rights and privileges to all couples regardless of gender.
Waiting Period: None
Unlike some states that impose waiting periods after obtaining a marriage license, Alabama does not have a waiting period. Couples can get married as soon as they have their properly completed and recorded marriage certificate.
Certificate Validity: 30 Days
After obtaining the marriage certificate, the validity period is 30 days from the date of being signed. Couples must solemnize their marriage within this period for it to be legally recognized.
Blood Test: Not Required
Alabama no longer requires premarital blood tests, making the process of obtaining a marriage certificate simpler and more straightforward.
Residency: Not Required
You do not have to be a resident of Alabama to get married in the state. Both residents and non-residents can apply for a marriage certificate.
Witnesses: Not Required
In Alabama, witnesses are not required for the marriage ceremony. The completion and recording of the marriage certificate are sufficient for the marriage to be legally valid.
The New Alabama Marriage Certificate
The Alabama Marriage Certificate represents a contractual agreement between the parties to the marriage. Once both parties have completed and delivered the form to the probate court for recording, the marriage is considered valid.
Previously, a wedding ceremony was required for a recognized marriage in Alabama. However, under the new regulations, solemnization is no longer mandatory. This means that a formal wedding ceremony is no longer necessary for a marriage to be legally recognized in the state.
Marriage Certificate Requirements
To apply for a marriage certificate, couples must follow these steps:
- Obtain a standardized marriage certificate form provided by the state, county probate judge’s office, or available online.
- Fully complete the form, providing all the necessary information about each spouse.
- Take the marriage certificate form to a notary to witness signatures. Notary services for the form are not provided by the Probate Office.
- Deliver the original, fully completed, and notarized form to the county Probate Judge’s office for recording, along with the applicable filing fee for that county. The fee may vary depending on the county.
- The completed form must be submitted within 30 days of being signed.
- The effective date of the marriage is the latter of the dates of the signature of the spouses.
It is crucial to verify all information with your local County Probate office before proceeding to purchase your marriage certificate. The County Probate Office has specific requirements for the format of the form, and handwritten forms are not accepted to ensure legibility and accurate recording of information.
To obtain a marriage certificate in Alabama, individuals must provide proper identification, along with their Social Security card. Acceptable forms of identification include:
- A valid driver’s license
- Non-Driver’s license
- A copy of your birth certificate certified by the State or County
- A military identification
- A certified school record
For individuals who have been divorced, there is a 60-day restriction on getting married after the divorce unless they are remarrying their former spouse.
Marriage Certificate Fee
The marriage certificate fee in Sumter County, Alabama, is $75. The preferred method of payment is cash.
The Marriage Certificate and Name Change
Obtaining a marriage certificate with your new name on it does not automatically change your name. If you wish to change your last name, you can use an online marriage name change kit to facilitate the process.
Marriage Age Requirements
In Alabama, minors aged 16 to 17 years can apply for a marriage certificate, but they require the consent of a parent or guardian to enter into marriage. Instructions for completing and filing the new forms are included to ensure compliance with the legal requirements.
For persons aged 18 and over, the process is straightforward, and parental consent is not necessary.
Special Cases: Proxy and Cousin Marriages
Proxy marriages, where one or both parties are not physically present at the ceremony, are not permitted in Alabama. Hence, no other party can apply for a marriage certificate on behalf of either spouse.
Alabama allows first and second cousins to legally marry, making cousin marriages permissible in the state.
Common Law Marriages in Alabama
Alabama recognizes common law marriages if specific criteria are met. The criteria include 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.
Solemnization and Officiants
As mentioned earlier, solemnization is no longer required for a recognized marriage in Alabama. This means that a formal wedding ceremony, though optional, is not necessary for a marriage to be legally valid.
Couples have the flexibility to choose wedding officiants for their wedding or vow renewal ceremony. There are numerous options available, and they can submit one form to top-rated marriage officiants in their locality to find the best AL Wedding Officiant.
Expiration Date of Marriage Certificate
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 signature of the spouses.
Obtaining a Copy of Marriage Certificate
If you require a copy of your marriage certificate, you can contact the Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. The office is located at 434 Monroe St., Montgomery, Alabama 36130-3017, and can be reached at Ph: 334.613.5300 or Fx: 334.240.3097.
The process of obtaining a marriage certificate in Alabama has been streamlined, eliminating the need for a marriage license and simplifying the requirements. Regardless of age, gender, or residency, couples can now formalize their commitment with ease. The Alabama Marriage Certificate represents a legally binding agreement between spouses, and its proper completion and recording ensure the validity of the marriage.
Q1: How has the marriage certificate process changed in Alabama?
Answer: Under Alabama Act 2019-340, the process has been updated, and now couples are no longer required to apply for a marriage license. Instead, they complete a standardized marriage certificate form, which is then recorded by the probate court, making the marriage legally valid.
Q2: Is parental consent required for individuals aged 18 and above?
Answer: No, parental consent is not required for individuals aged 18 and above to marry in Alabama. They can apply for a marriage certificate independently.
Q3: Is a waiting period necessary after obtaining a marriage certificate in Alabama?
Answer: There is no waiting period in Alabama after obtaining a marriage certificate. Couples can marry as soon as they have their properly completed and recorded marriage certificate.
Q4: Are witnesses required for the marriage ceremony in Alabama?
Answer: No, witnesses are not required for the marriage ceremony in Alabama. The completion and recording of the marriage certificate are sufficient for the marriage to be legally valid.
Q5: Can individuals marry their first or second cousins in Alabama?
Answer: Yes, first and second cousins may legally marry in Alabama.