Making it All Legal: A Checklist
Know the laws and have the necessary documents to make your marriage official
By Sandy Mitchell
Although every state, county and country has somewhat (and sometimes drastically) different requirements, there are a few basic documents and information you need for most places for your marriage to be legal. For instance, to apply for your marriage license, you'll need proof of identity and proof that you are indeed divorced or widowed (if applicable).
Proof of Identity
Virtually every destination requires that couples show proof of identity to apply for a marriage license. This generally must be a state or government-issued document, such as a driver's license, a state ID, a military ID or a passport.
Proof of Termination of Previous Marriage
In addition to proof of identity, if either of the partners have been previously married, that person must show proof that the previous marriage has ended in death, divorce, annulment or dissolution. The documents required for this step vary somewhat by state.
Proof of Age
Most U.S. states require that both parties be at least 18 years old to marry. Some states, such as West Virginia, allow couples to marry at 16 years of age with the written consent of their parents.
Blood Test Results (if applicable)
Fifty years ago, virtually all states required that applicants submit to a blood test to obtain a marriage license. This was to check to see if either party had an STD. Today, few states require this. Among the ones that do are Indiana, Massachusetts and Georgia.
Satisfaction of Waiting Period
Most U.S. states and municipalities require that couples wait from one to five days from the time they obtain their marriage license until the time the ceremony takes place. For example, New York State has a one-day waiting period, and Minnesota has a five-day waiting period. The most notable exception to this is Nevada, which has no waiting period (and Las Vegas has a cottage industry in quick weddings).
Religious or Civil Ceremony
After obtaining your marriage license, you must follow with a civil or religious ceremony, conducted by a religious leader or civil authority recognized by the state. Most states require that the ceremony take place in 30 to 180 days.
About the Author
Sandy Mitchell is a writer and blogger and a contributor to DexKnows.
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