We all know what marriage stands for, and the fact that it is hugely popular all over the world, but do you actually know what the paperwork involves? If you are getting married, you’re entering into a legal agreement. Not very romantic, but it’s a fact. Are you prepared with the knowledge you need?
In this guide, we explain marriage paperwork and what it entails, plus, the legal requirements of a marriage ceremony. Certain things need to be covered to turn it into a legally binding ceremony, and to ensure that the marriage is legitimate. Though most marriages are joyous and proper, there are some who seek to game the system.
The Marriage License
Each state has its own civil authority that handles licenses. You can usually get these from the clerk of a circuit court from the state, but regulations and laws do vary depending on where you are based. Go to the website of the county or state government where you plan to get married.
When you are looking to get a marriage license you need to bring your passport with you, and other forms of ID. Some states even require your birth certificate to prove you are a US citizen. Both parties who are getting married need to attend when you’re getting your license. You and your partner will have to swear under oath that what you have put in your marriage application is correct.
This step needs to be carried out before you get married, but not too far in advance because of the fact that licenses do expire. The time they can be issued for varies from one state to another.
The Marriage Certificate
You will normally get a record of your marriage in the form of a certificate. This is held via a court or civil office, but they can provide you with a copy. Because the marriage certificate becomes a form of public records, if you should lose your certificate in the future you might be able to apply for a replacement.
The certificate is closely linked to the information that you will have had to provide when getting your license, so you will need to offer a photo ID, a birth certificate, proof of residency, and even the proof you have paid the license fee. Checks will be made to check you are legally able to get married.
These marriage records are important and can play a part in things like Green Card applications in the future, so make sure you don’t lose your certificate.
The Legal requirements of Marriage Ceremonies
There are legal requirements wherever you plan to get married, but as with many legal aspects of marriage.
In some states, you will have to have a blood check to test for any diseases that could hurt any children you might have. This isn’t the case in many states anymore.
You will need to provide proof of your age, and that you are old enough to be married. 18 is the minimum age to get married in most states, though some allow 16-year-olds to get married if they can provide parental consent.
The ceremony itself is performed by a religious minister or a civil appointee. The circuit courts provide the authorization for certain people to carry out these ceremonies, regardless of religion. In some states, people can specifically get ordained in order to perform a marriage ceremony, and some people who want this may even travel to those states to allow a friend or family member to carry out the wedding.
This is just one example of how vital it is to check the local laws. Your state law will dictate many aspects of the legalities of weddings.
When the license (the legal documentation that becomes part of the marriage records) is signed, the official must also sign it, along with the married couple. The completed document is then sent to a court within days of the ceremony taking place.
Each state has its own rules about witnesses, but there are usually at least two required. These witnesses may also have to sign the document. This acts as proof that all of the documents have been completed and that the documents have been created in the presence of someone else, who can verify the documentation.
Though it is good to know what paperwork is being created and what is being carried out, this isn’t something you should have to worry too much about on the day of your wedding. As long as you have provided all the required legal documentation beforehand, it will be easy enough for you to simply sign the documents as a part of your wedding.
The vows are not actually part of the legal requirement in most states. It’s more of a tradition or a religious aspect of the wedding. Saying “I do” has very little impact in the eyes of the
law, it is the signing of the registers that do the job legally.
Steps After the Wedding
After the wedding, it’s time to go about making your name changes, if required. If you have taken your partner’s name then the legal steps usually involve sending a copy of your marriage certificate to the required licensing agencies, to get a new driver’s license issued.
If your citizenship is not American, or you are an American marrying somewhere from elsewhere, there could be an extra level to your required legal steps after the wedding, as you might be looking to apply for a Green Card and get US citizenship. There is a government-issued form, but it is not that simple. It is probably the case that you will be asked to attend an interview. This is to ensure that your marriage is legitimate and not just a marriage of convenience in order to obtain citizenship. Because the Green Card is a valuable commodity, some people are willing to lie to get one, so checks have to be carried out. The document allows people to live and work in the United States.
If you’ve got all of the legal issues out of the way, it’s time to celebrate. Congratulations on your marriage. In the US, the marriage process is usually relatively straightforward, even though there are different rules in different states. For instance, in some states, you can get married at age 16, as long as you have permission from your parents.
Your wedding should be a joyous occasion and the start of the rest of your life with a partner. By putting the right initial steps in place and ensuring you have the wedding license correctly planned before your marriage, you can enjoy your special day with no worries about complications. After this, there are some simple steps to take to change your name with certain legal bodies and apply for a new driver’s license and ID.
Marriage is one of the oldest institutions that is still practised today, and though the legal aspects are not the reason we get married or the thing we find exciting, it’s important to get all of the steps in order before the big day.