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. Read on for everything you need to know about getting hitched in Texas. --Joan Bahr
Residency Requirement And Waiting Period
There is no residency requirement for couples wishing to marry in Texas. Once the application has been filled out, couples must wait 72 hours to marry, unless the applicant is a member of the armed forces and is on active duty, is an employee of the Department of Defense, obtains a written waiver or completes an approved premarital education course.
The bride and groom must be 18 years old to get married in Texas without permission. Minors who are 16 or 17 can get married if they have written parental consent and the parents are present, or if they have been previously legally married and have a certified divorce decree. A Texas judge must approve marriage for anyone younger than 16.
Couples must apply at
for a marriage license in Texas. They must appear at a county clerk's office together, but Texas law allows another adult applicant to appear on behalf of an "absent applicant" with proof of authority to consent to the marriage. The license expires after 30 days if a marriage ceremony has not taken place. The general state fee for a marriage license in Texas is $60, but counties can add to that fee. Couples who complete a state-approved marriage class can have the $60 portion of the fee waived.
Applicants for a marriage license in Texas must prove their identity and age. This can include anything from a driver's license or ID card from any state, a U.S. passport, a military ID or a birth certificate to school records, insurance policies, a pilot's license or a concealed handgun license. If either the bride or groom is divorced, proof must be presented that shows the divorce did not occur in the last 30 days. The
includes the entire list of acceptable ID.
Witnesses And Officiants
In Texas, an ordained Christian minister or priest, a Jewish rabbi, an officer of an authorized religious organization or various active or retired judges can conduct wedding ceremonies. The ceremony does not have to take place in Texas and witnesses are not required. As is the case when applying for a license, an authorized adult can take the place of an
for the ceremony. The officiant must return the license to the county clerk who issued it within 30 days of the ceremony.
Same-sex marriage is not allowed in Texas. A 2005 addendum to the
states that marriage "shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman."
surfaced in 2009 in which Barbara Ann Radnofsky, Houston attorney and then-Democratic candidate for Texas attorney general, claimed a clause in the addendum "erroneously endangered the legal status of all marriages in Texas." Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott refuted the claim.
Did You Know?
Texas refers to common-law marriages as "informal marriages." Such marriages are legal in Texas and the couple may register the informal union with the county clerk, but they are not required to do so. They do not have to have lived together for any specific length of time, and they do not have to own property together. They do have to be at least 18 years old.
See the full set of laws and regulations regarding marriage in Texas.
A name change following marriage in Texas 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.