Alabama Wedding Laws
Whether you plan to get married in Alabama or officiate a wedding for a friend, loved one or acquaintance, it is important that you adhere to state laws throughout the whole process. Failure to do so could make your union or the one you officiate invalid. To prevent this from happening, we have put together this comprehensive guide to Alabama’s marriage laws.
How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Alabama
Any person of any age, religious background or place of origin may officiate a wedding in Alabama. The state will recognize the marriage as legally binding so long as the members of the couple fulfills their end of the deal. Moreover, the state does not require a minister or person to register as an officiant online or go through any other course. However, many choose to do so, as some places throughout Alabama still ask to see credentials.
Of course, the officiant needs to do more than just show up. In addition to reciting what the couple wants him or her to recite, the officiant or minister should ensure the parties sign the license or certificate following the ceremony.
Getting Married in Alabama
Along with doing away with the need for a marriage license, Alabama’s laws also did away with the need for a minister’s or witness’ signature on the marriage certificate. The only parties that must sign the marital contract are the parties to the contract themselves. They must also provide their Social Security numbers and get the certificate notarized and filed within 30 days.
The new laws make it possible for individuals to customize their weddings to their unique preferences and beliefs. The state is also no longer responsible for determining the verbiage that binds couples together in a lawful marriage.
How to Get a Alabama Marriage License
The path to marriage is changing, and state laws along with it. As of recently, Alabama law did away with the need for a marriage license and made the wedding ceremony optional. Today, couples need only to print out and complete the Alabama Marriage Certificate from the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website. Once both parties sign the certificate, get it notarized, and file it with the Probate Court, the marriage becomes legally binding. However, couples must be sure to file the certificate within 30 days of the date the second spouse signs it.
Every county in Alabama recognizes this non-ceremonial path to marriage. As a result, you may file at any probate court within any county of the state. However, filing fees vary from court to court.
No state laws require parties to submit blood test results to enjoy a lawful union.
Show Legal Excerpt+
Ala. Code § 30-1-9.1 Requirements for marriage; validity; construction with other laws.
(a) On August 29, 2019, and thereafter, the only requirement for a marriage in this state shall be for parties who are otherwise legally authorized to be married to enter into a marriage as provided in this section. However, the judge of probate shall continue to collect the recording fee provided for in subdivision (32) of subsection (b) of Section 12-19-90 for each marriage recorded with the judge of probate. Furthermore, at the time the marriage is recorded, the judge of probate shall also collect the fee provided for in Section 30-6-11, to be distributed as provided in that section.
(b) The marriage document required to be executed by the parties shall contain information to identify the parties as set forth in Section 22-9A-6, as well as the following minimum information:
(1) The full legal names of both of the parties.
(2) A notarized affidavit from each party declaring all of the following:
a. The affiant is not currently married.
b.1. The affiant is at least 18 years of age; or
- The affiant is at least 16 and under 18 years of age and has the consent of a parent or guardian.
c. The affiant is legally competent to enter into a marriage.
d. The parties are not related by blood or adoption such that the marriage would violate Section 13A-13-3.
e. The affiant is entering into the marriage voluntarily and of his or her own free will and not under duress or undue influence.
(3) The signatures of the parties.
(c) A marriage conforming to the requirements of this section shall be valid on the date the marriage is executed by both parties, provided the affidavits, forms, and data are recorded in the office of the judge of probate within 30 days of the date of the last party's signature in accordance with Section 22-9A-17.
(d) A civil and independent or religious ceremony of marriage, celebration of marriage, solemnization of marriage, or any other officiation, or administration of the vows of marriage may be conducted or engaged in by the parties by an officiant or other presiding person to be selected by the persons entering into the marriage. The state shall have no requirement for any ceremony or proceeding and whether or not a ceremony or proceeding is performed or not performed shall have no legal effect on the validity of the marriage.
(e) The affidavits, forms, and data shall be filed in the office of the judge of probate and shall constitute a legal record of the marriage of the parties. A copy of the form provided by the Office of Vital Statistics shall be transmitted by the office of the judge of probate to the Office of Vital Statistics and made a part of its record.
(f) This section shall not affect any other legal aspects of marriage in this state, including, but not limited to, divorce, spousal support, child custody, or child support.
(g) All requirements to obtain a marriage license by the State of Alabama are abolished and repealed. The requirement of a ceremony of marriage to solemnize the marriage is abolished.
(h) The Alabama Law Institute, a division of the Legislative Services Agency, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health, shall prepare a form to meet the minimum requirements of Act 2019-340.
Ala. Code § 12-19-90 Judge of probate – Schedule of fees.
(b) Fees for services other than those specified in subsection (a) shall be:
(32) Issuing and recording marriage license ..... 10.00
Applying For a Marriage License in Alabama
Other than those pertaining to age, Alabama has few requirements for marriage. In fact, the only real requirement pertains to when a couple must file the marriage certificate or license after the second spouse signs it.
The law mandates that the probate court must receive the signed and notarized marriage certificate or license within 30 days of the last spousal signature. For instance, if one spouse signs on Monday, October 12, and the other signs on Thursday, October 15, there are 30 days from the 15th to get the document to the court.
If a couple fails to record a certificate or license within that 30-day window, the license does not expire. Rather, the couple need only fill out another form, sign it and get it notarized.
The state does not require couples to partake in a symbolic ceremony or to obtain a marriage license (though they are welcome to). Alabama also does not have special registration requirements for officiants or ministers.
Moreover, Alabama does not require couples to wait a specified amount of time before tying the knot. A wedding may take place on the same day couples obtain and sign a marriage certificate or on the same day they are issued a license.
Alabama Marriage Requirements
To legally wed in Alabama, parties must be at least 18 years old. The only exception to this is if an affianced is 16 years old and has his or her parent’s consent. The law does not provide any exceptions to parties who are under 16 years of age, even if their parents approve.
Because Alabama recognizes marriage equality, same-sex couples can legally wed within state boundaries. The state also recognizes out-of-state gay marriages and did even before the Supreme Court ruling in 2015.
Like many other states, Alabama does not have a residency requirement. This means that parties can get married in the state even if neither party is a resident of it. Any persons from out of state or out of country are free to wed in the Heart of Dixie.
Show Legal Excerpt+
Ala. Code § 30-1-4
Minimum age for contracting marriage.
A person under the age of 16 years is incapable of contracting marriage.
(Code 1852, §1944; Code 1867, §2333; Code 1876, §2672; Code 1886, §2309; Code 1896, §2839; Code 1907, §4879; Code 1923, §8993; Code 1940, T. 34, §4; Act 2003-150, p. 454, §1.)
Ala. Code § 30-1-5
Consent of parents and bond required for marriage of certain minors.
If the person intending to marry is at least 16 years of age and under 18 years of age and has not had a former wife or husband, the judge of probate shall require the consent of the parents or guardians of the minor to the marriage, to be given either personally or in writing, and, if the latter, the execution thereof shall be proved. The judge of probate shall also require a bond to be executed in the penal sum of two hundred dollars ($200), payable to the State of Alabama, with condition to be void if there is no lawful cause why such marriage should not be celebrated.
(Code 1852, §1950; Code 1867, §2339; Code 1876, §2678; Code 1886, §2315; Code 1896, §2845; Code 1907, §4885; Code 1923, §8999; Code 1940, T. 34, §10; Act 2003-150, p. 454, §1.)
Ala. Code § 13A-13-3
(a) A person commits incest if he marries or engages in sexual intercourse with a person he knows to be, either legitimately or illegitimately:
(1) His ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption; or
(2) His brother or sister of the whole or half-blood or by adoption; or
(3) His stepchild or stepparent, while the marriage creating the relationship exists; or
(4) His aunt, uncle, nephew or niece of the whole or half-blood.
(b) A person shall not be convicted of incest or of an attempt to commit incest upon the uncorroborated testimony of the person with whom the offense is alleged to have been committed.
(c) Incest is a Class C felony.
Finalizing the Union
Regardless of whether you have a ceremony or not and whether or not you choose to obtain a marriage, there are two important steps you need to take to make sure your union is legally binding: First, get the signed marriage license or certificate notarized and file it with the probate courts within 30 days of the last signature. Your signatures and accompanying date confirm that you both consent to the marriage. A notary — a list for which you can find on the Alabama Secretary of State’s website — confirms that you both consent and that neither of you signed the certificate as a victim of fraud or duress.
Neither you nor your new spouse must live in Alabama to file your certificate or license with a state probate court. However, you should do your due diligence when deciding which court to file with, as some have higher filing fees than others.
Though you do not have to obtain credentials to officiate a wedding in Alabama, you should consider doing so. Keep a copy of your credentials on hand. You should also keep track of any ceremonies you perform, just in case there is ever any question about their validity.
We hope that this comprehensive guide contains the information you need to make your big day a smooth and stress-free one.
Show Legal Excerpt+
The judge of probate must keep a book, in which shall be registered all marriages filed in the office. The judge of probate shall record, in a permanent record, all marriages presented to the probate court and shall forward the original documentation to the Office of Vital Statistics in accordance with Section 22-9A-17.