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Article: Marriage license

Marriage license

History and Purpose of Marriage Licenses

  • Marriage licenses began in the Middle Ages to permit marriages that would otherwise be illegal.
  • Initially issued to ensure the necessary period of notice for the marriage.
  • Today, marriage licenses are a legal requirement in some jurisdictions and serve as the record of the marriage.
  • Some jurisdictions do not require a license and recognize common-law marriages.
  • Some jurisdictions do not have marriage licenses and issue a marriage certificate after the ceremony.

Marriage License Requirements in Different Countries

  • Australia: No requirement for a marriage license, but individuals under 18 need authorization from a judge. Notice of Intended Marriage must be provided to the marriage celebrant at least one month before the wedding.
  • United Kingdom: Marriage licenses have a long history. Banns of marriage were introduced in 1215, and marriage licenses were introduced in the 14th century. Civil marriages have been a legal alternative since 1837.
  • Scotland: Marriage law differs from England and Wales. Public promises without a formal ceremony are no longer available. Religious marriages have no restrictions on the place of the ceremony. Notice requirements vary based on marital status and other procedural matters.
  • United States: Common-law marriages were recognized until the mid-19th century. Marriage licenses are required in most states, with varying specifications. Both parties must appear in person to obtain a license. North Carolina and Tennessee do not recognize common-law marriages without a license.
  • Netherlands: Couples must register their intention to marry beforehand.
  • Mexico: Only civil marriage is recognized as legal. Religious ceremonies have no legal effect. Civil weddings are performed without charge at municipal halls.

Requirements for Obtaining a Marriage License in the United States

  • Marriageable age (over 18 years, lower with parental consent).
  • Proper identification required (driver's license, state ID card, birth certificate, or passport).
  • Proof of being unmarried (proof of spouse's death or divorce may be required).
  • Some states previously required blood tests for diseases.
  • Waiting period between license granting and marriage ceremony in many states.

Process After the Marriage Ceremony in the United States

  • Both spouses and the officiant sign the marriage license.
  • Some states require one or two witnesses.
  • Filing for a certified copy of the marriage license and a marriage certificate.
  • Some states have a time limit for filing the license.
  • Marriage records are held by the state where the ceremony took place.

Controversies and Related Topics

  • Some groups argue that marriage licenses are unnecessary or immoral.
  • Controversies include restrictions on same-sex marriage and religious practices.
  • Instances of discrimination, such as refusal to issue licenses to interracial couples.
  • Related topics include banns of marriage, birth and death certificates, and marriage certificates.

Marriage license Data Sources

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