Ohio Wedding Laws
Drafted and last reviewed for accuracy by the Ohio marriage law team at the Universal Life Church Ministries on
Though only the 34th largest state by area, Ohio is the seventh most populous and the 10th most densely populated in the nation. Needless to say, Ohio has an allure to both existing residents and individuals who are looking for a change of scenery. Whatever camp you fall into, if you plan to tie the knot anytime soon in the Buckeye State, you should brush up on state marriage laws to ensure that, at the end of your big day, your union is legally binding.
Ohio Marriage Requirements
In most instances, persons must be at least 18 years old to marry in Ohio. The state forbids marriages between individuals who are closer in blood than second cousins or who have living spouses of their own. Finally, state law specifies that a marriage may only occur between a man and a woman. However, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling in 2015, Ohio courts must now legally recognize same-sex marriages.
There are two exceptions to the “no-minors-can-marry” rule. The first is if both parties are 17 years old and have consent from their parents or guardians. The second is if one party is 17 and has consent from a parent or guardian, and the other party is at least 18 but not older than 21.
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Ohio Rev. Code § 3101.01 Persons who may be joined in marriage – minor to obtain consent.
(A) Except as provided in section 3101.02 of the Revised Code, only male persons of the age of eighteen years, and only female persons of the age of eighteen years, not nearer of kin than second cousins, and not having a husband or wife living, may be joined in marriage. A marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman.
(1) Any marriage between persons of the same sex is against the strong public policy of this state. Any marriage between persons of the same sex shall have no legal force or effect in this state and, if attempted to be entered into in this state, is void ab initio and shall not be recognized by this state.
(2) Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state.
(3) The recognition or extension by the state of the specific statutory benefits of a legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is against the strong public policy of this state. Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of this state, as defined in section 9.82 of the Revised Code, that extends the specific statutory benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is void ab initio. Nothing in division (B)(3) of this section shall be construed to do either of the following:
(a) Prohibit the extension of specific benefits otherwise enjoyed by all persons, married or unmarried, to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes, including the extension of benefits conferred by any statute that is not expressly limited to married persons, which includes but is not limited to benefits available under Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code;
(b) Affect the validity of private agreements that are otherwise valid under the laws of this state.
(4) Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state, country, or other jurisdiction outside this state that extends the specific benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state.
Ohio Rev. Code § 3101.02 Condition of consent by juvenile court for persons age seventeen.
(A) If both persons to be joined in marriage are the age of seventeen years, they may be joined in marriage only if the juvenile court has filed a consent to the marriage under section 3101.04 of the Revised Code.
(B) If only one person is the age of seventeen years, that person may be joined in marriage only if both of the following apply:
(1) The juvenile court has filed a consent to the marriage under section 3101.04 of the Revised Code.
(2) The other person to be joined in marriage is not more than four years older.
How to Get a Ohio Marriage License
Ohio law mandates that both parties of an intended marriage obtain their separate marriage licenses before tying the knot. Parties must apply for a license, in person, at the probate court in the county in which they reside. If one member of the couple is an out-of-state resident, he or she must apply for a license in the county in which the ceremony will occur.
To apply for a license, both parties will need to provide basic information about themselves. This includes name, date of birth, place of birth and city of residence. They will also need to provide the name of their intended officiant and their mother’s and father’s maiden names, if applicable.
If either party was married before, he or she will need to show relevant divorce documents and the names of the previous spouse and children of the marriage. Not only must parties provide this information under oath but also they must present supporting documents. Supporting documents include but are not limited to a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, immigration records and professional licenses. If parties must give their Social Security numbers, the courts will use them for their intended purposes and then strike them from public record.
If a minor intends to marry, the courts require him or her to participate in court-approved marriage counseling before applying for a license.
Once the courts receive the appropriate information, a judge will review it for omissions and inaccuracies. If all seems correct, he or she will issue the marriage license. If, however, the judge determines that either party knowingly falsified any information, he or she may charge the party with fraud and fine him or her.
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3101.05 Application for marriage license.
(A) The parties to a marriage shall make an application for a marriage license. Each of the persons seeking a marriage license shall personally appear in the probate court within the county where either resides, or, if neither is a resident of this state, where the marriage is expected to be solemnized. If neither party is a resident of this state, the marriage may be solemnized only in the county where the license is obtained. Each party shall make application and shall state upon oath, the party's name, age, residence, place of birth, occupation, father's name, and mother's maiden name, if known, and the name of the person who is expected to solemnize the marriage. If either party has been previously married, the application shall include the names of the parties to any previous marriage and of any minor children, and if divorced the jurisdiction, date, and case number of the decree. If either applicant is the age of seventeen years, the judge shall require the applicants to state that they received marriage counseling satisfactory to the court. Except as otherwise provided in this division, the application also shall include each party's social security number. In lieu of requiring each party's social security number on the application, the court may obtain each party's social security number, retain the social security numbers in a separate record, and allow a number other than the social security number to be used on the application for reference purposes. If a court allows the use of a number other than the social security number to be used on the application for reference purposes, the record containing the social security number is not a public record, except that, in any of the circumstances set forth in divisions (C)(1) to (5) of section 3101.051 of the Revised Code, the record containing the social security number shall be made available for inspection under section 149.43 of the Revised Code.
Immediately upon receipt of an application for a marriage license, the court shall place the parties' record in a book kept for that purpose. If the probate judge is satisfied that there is no legal impediment and if one or both of the parties are present, the probate judge shall grant the marriage license.
If the judge is satisfied from the affidavit of a reputable physician in active practice and residing in the county where the probate court is located, that one of the parties is unable to appear in court, by reason of illness or other physical disability, a marriage license may be granted upon application and oath of the other party to the contemplated marriage; but in that case the person who is unable to appear in court, at the time of making application for a marriage license, shall make and file in that court, an affidavit setting forth the information required of applicants for a marriage license.
A probate judge may grant a marriage license under this section at any time after the application is made.
A marriage license issued shall not display the social security number of either party to the marriage.
Each person seeking a marriage license shall present documentary proof of age in the form of any one of the following:
(1) A copy of a birth record;
(2) A birth certificate issued by the department of health, a local registrar of vital statistics, or other public office charged with similar duties by the laws of another state, territory, or country;
(3) A baptismal record showing the person's date of birth;
(4) A passport;
(5) A license or permit to operate a motor vehicle as defined under section 4501.01 of the Revised Code;
(6) Any government- or school-issued identification card showing the person's date of birth;
(7) An immigration record showing the person's date of birth;
(8) A naturalization record showing the person's date of birth;
(9) A court record or any other document or record issued by a governmental entity showing the person's date of birth.
(B) An applicant for a marriage license who knowingly makes a false statement in an application or affidavit prescribed by this section is guilty of falsification under section 2921.13 of the Revised Code.
(C) No licensing officer shall issue a marriage license if the officer has not received the application, affidavit, or other statements prescribed by this section or if the officer has reason to believe that any of the statements in a marriage license application or in an affidavit prescribed by this section are false.
(D) Any fine collected for violation of this section shall be paid to the use of the county together with the costs of prosecution.
Amended by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 511, §1, eff. 4/8/2019.
Effective Date: 02-12-2001 .
Applying For a Marriage License in Ohio
Once the state issues a marriage license, it is valid for just 60 days. The 60-day period begins on the date that the courts print it. However, many couples marry the same day they receive the license.
Regardless of whether a couple wastes no time getting married or plans to marry within the month, it is important that the officiant return the license and marriage record to the same court that issued the license within 30 days of the ceremony.
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Ohio Rev. Code § 3101.07 Expiration date of license.
No marriage license shall be effective nor shall it authorize the performance of a marriage ceremony after the expiration of sixty days from the date of issuance. This provision shall be printed on each license in prominent type.
Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .
Ohio Rev. Code § 3101.13 Marriage record.
Except as otherwise provided in this section, a certificate of every marriage solemnized shall be transmitted by the authorized person solemnizing the marriage, within thirty days after the solemnization, to the probate judge of the county in which the marriage license was issued. If, in accordance with section 2101.27 of the Revised Code, a probate judge solemnizes a marriage and if the probate judge issued the marriage license to the husband and wife, the probate judge shall file a certificate of that solemnized marriage in the probate judge's office within thirty days after the solemnization. All of the transmitted and filed certificates shall be consecutively numbered and recorded in the order in which they are received.
Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.52, SB 124, §1, eff. 1/13/2012.
Effective Date: 04-11-1991.
How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Ohio
Ohio recognizes marriages that are ordained by licensed ministers of all religious congregations, as well as those performed by ordained persons part of religious groups whose ceremonies do not require ministers. The state also allows mayors, county court judges and the superintendent of the state school for the deaf to perform marriages.
Individuals who earn their credentials online through the Universal Life Church also have the power to legally sanctify weddings without regard to their religious beliefs or gender, and provided that they are at least 18 years old. However, to have this power in Ohio, ULC ministers must register as officiants with the Secretary of State. Doing so requires them to present both their credentials and letters of good standing before they can receive a special license that grants them temporary permission to perform weddings in the state.
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Ohio Rev. Code § 3101.08 Who may solemnize marriages.
An ordained or licensed minister of any religious society or congregation within this state who is licensed to solemnize marriages, a judge of a county court in accordance with section 1907.18 of the Revised Code, a judge of a municipal court in accordance with section 1901.14 of the Revised Code, a probate judge in accordance with section 2101.27 of the Revised Code, the mayor of a municipal corporation in any county in which such municipal corporation wholly or partly lies, the superintendent of the state school for the deaf, or any religious society in conformity with the rules of its church, may join together as husband and wife any persons who are not prohibited by law from being joined in marriage.
Effective Date: 04-11-1991 .
Ohio Rev. Code § 3101.10 License to solemnize marriages.
A minister upon producing to the secretary of state, credentials of the minister's being a regularly ordained or licensed minister of any religious society or congregation, shall be entitled to receive from the secretary of state a license authorizing the minister to solemnize marriages in this state so long as the minister continues as a regular minister in that society or congregation. A minister shall produce for inspection the minister's license to solemnize marriages upon demand of any party to a marriage at which the minister officiates or proposes to officiate or upon demand of any probate judge.
Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.52, SB 124, §1, eff. 1/13/2012.
Effective Date: 06-04-1976 .
Getting Married in Ohio
The minister and both members of the couple must be physically present during the ceremony. However, the law does not require witnesses. The officiant must attest to the fact that both persons verbally consented to take the other as husband or wife for a marriage to be legally binding.
Finalizing the Union
The minister is responsible for ensuring that the couple properly fills out the marriage certificate with each’s name, title, home address and name of the congregation (Universal Life Church). The couple must then file the certificate with the appropriate probate court within 30 days of the ceremony.