Planning a wedding is a big undertaking, to be sure. But sorting out the legal paperwork before you say "I Do" can be even more challenging. To help get you organized before your Big Day, The Huffington Post has put together a comprehensive, state-by-state guide to getting married. Here, read on for everything you need to know about getting hitched in Alabama. --Barbie Carpenter
Residency Requirement And Waiting Period
Individuals do not have to be residents of Alabama to marry in the state, and there is no waiting period.
The legal age to marry in Alabama (age of majority) is 18. Individuals ages 16 and 17 can marry in Alabama with parental consent. Both parents or legal guardians must appear with the teenager to obtain the marriage license and provide valid identification and written consent. If the parents are divorced and one parent has full custody, he or she must bring the legal proof of divorce and full custody. If a parent has died, the teenager should provide the death certificate. Legal guardians must provide a certified copy of their court-appointed guardianship.
issues marriage licenses. Individuals can obtain a marriage license in any county in Alabama, not just the county in which they reside or in which they will marry. In most counties, both parties must be present to obtain the marriage license, which expires 30 days after it is issued. The cost of an Alabama marriage license varies from county to county; for example,
. Individuals should contact their county judge of probate for fees, noting that most offices accept cash only.
Legal documentation requirements depend on the age of the individual applying for a marriage license. Individuals younger than 18 must provide a certified copy of their birth certificate to apply for a marriage license. Individuals 18 and older must provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver's license or passport, to their county judge of probate. Non-U.S. citizens also must provide their passport and a valid visa. If an individual has been married before, he or she must provide the legal date of divorce, which must be at least 60 days prior to applying for a marriage license, excluding cases of remarriage.
Witnesses And Officiants
Any licensed minister, active or retired judge or religious pastor can perform marriages in Alabama. Within one month of the marriage, the officiant must submit the marriage license, which includes the names of the bride and groom and the date and location of the ceremony, to the county judge of probate.
, but couples should check with their county judge of probate for specific requirements.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Alabama. Section 30-1-19 of the Code of Alabama, known as the Alabama Marriage Protection Act, defines marriage as "inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman." The state does not recognize same-sex marriages that occurred in other jurisdictions.
Did You Know?
In Alabama, it is legal for
. Alabama recognizes
where there is "capacity to enter into a marriage, present agreement of consent to be husband and wife, public recognition of the existence of the marriage and consummation." Officiants must closely follow Alabama marriage laws, as failure to return the marriage license to the county judge of probate results in a misdemeanor. In addition, the state levies a fine of $1,000 for officiants who marry a couple without a valid marriage license.
See the full set of laws and regulations regarding marriage in Alabama.
A name change following marriage in Alabama can be a hassle. It's a good idea to start by getting certified copies of your marriage certificate, filing a name change petition, then changing your name on your driver's license and vehicle registration. Name changes must also be submitted to your employer, as well as the Social Security Administration and the U.S. passport agency. Also consider changing your name on voter registration forms, bank accounts, credit cards, frequent-flier accounts and utilities providers.