Texas Wedding Laws
The great state of Texas prides itself on things being bigger there than in other places. This certainly appears to be the case when it comes to marriage laws, having some of the most detailed and extensive codes in the United States. We’ve prepared an exhaustive guide related to marriage law in the Lone Star State to support you with Texan couples who are ready to tie the knot. Many things are bigger in Texas, but legal issues related to marriage shouldn’t be among them.
Getting Married in Texas
Unlike many other states, Texas allows the use of a proxy designed to serve members of the armed forces engaged in active duty abroad. A proxy may represent either active duty miilitary member of the wedding party in the event they are unable to attend the ceremony. Before the wedding, the couple must attest to this in the affidavit portion of the marriage license.
Spoken consent to the union must be provided by the couple or a proxy, such as “I do” or “I will.” The authorized minister will then declare the marriage to be official as part of the ceremony.
Show Legal Excerpt+
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.203. CEREMONY.
(a) On receiving an unexpired marriage license, an authorized person may conduct the marriage ceremony as provided by this subchapter.
(b) A person may assent to marriage by the appearance of a proxy appointed in the affidavit authorized by Subchapter A if the person is:
(1) a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in another country in support of combat or another military operation; and
(2) unable to attend the ceremony.
Texas Marriage Requirements
Generally, couples who are looking to marry in Texas should be at least 18 years old. Applicants who are younger than 18 will have to secure approval from special courts. Heterosexual and homosexual couples from other states and nations can solemnize their union within the Lone Star State.
The state is clear on the information that applicants must provide to the state clerk to procure a marriage license:
- Verification that the couple isn’t already married or has divorced within the previous 30 days
- Proof that the couple is not blood-related within second cousins
- Documentation that neither applicant is delinquent on court-ordered payment of child support (which alone doesn’t automatically disqualify a couple from receiving a marriage license)
Would-be Texan newlyweds will have to be present to swear to the veracity of all requested information. Knowingly providing false or deceptive information is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas.
At this point, the clerk will solicit information regarding any person who will serve as a proxy for either applicant who will not be present for the marriage ceremony. The state clerk will also direct applicants to pertinent information regarding HIV/AIDS and other premarital guidance before issuance of the marriage license.
Show Legal Excerpt+
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.003. APPLICATION FOR LICENSE BY MINOR.
(a) A person under 18 years of age may not marry unless the person has been granted by this state or another state a court order removing the disabilities of minority of the person for general purposes.
(b) In addition to the other requirements provided by this chapter, a person under 18 years of age applying for a license must provide to the county clerk:
(1) a court order granted by this state under Chapter 31 removing the disabilities of minority of the person for general purposes; or
(2) if the person is a nonresident minor, a certified copy of an order removing the disabilities of minority of the person for general purposes filed with this state under Section 31.007.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.101. GENERAL AGE REQUIREMENT. A county clerk may not issue a marriage license if either applicant is under 18 years of age, unless each underage applicant shows that the applicant has been granted by this state or another state a court order removing the disabilities of minority of the applicant for general purposes.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.004. APPLICATION FORM. (a) The county clerk shall furnish the application form as prescribed by the bureau of vital statistics.
(b) The application form must contain:
(1) a heading entitled "Application for Marriage License, ____________ County, Texas";
(2) spaces for each applicant's full name, including the woman's maiden surname, address, social security number, if any, date of birth, and place of birth, including city, county, and state;
(3) a space for indicating the document tendered by each applicant as proof of identity and age;
(4) spaces for indicating whether each applicant has been divorced within the last 30 days;
(5) printed boxes for each applicant to check "true" or "false" in response to the following statement: "I am not presently married and the other applicant is not presently married.";
(6) printed boxes for each applicant to check "true" or "false" in response to the following statement: "The other applicant is not related to me as:
(A) an ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption;
(B) a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(C) a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(D) a son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(E) a current or former stepchild or stepparent; or
(F) a son or daughter of a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption.";
(7) printed boxes for each applicant to check "true" or "false" in response to the following statement: "I am not presently delinquent in the payment of court-ordered child support.";
(8) a printed oath reading: "I SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT THE INFORMATION I HAVE GIVEN IN THIS APPLICATION IS CORRECT.";
(9) spaces immediately below the printed oath for the applicants' signatures;
(10) a certificate of the county clerk that:
(A) each applicant made the oath and the date and place that it was made; or
(B) an applicant did not appear personally but the prerequisites for the license have been fulfilled as provided by this chapter;
(11) spaces for indicating the date of the marriage and the county in which the marriage is performed;
(12) a space for the address to which the applicants desire the completed license to be mailed; and
(13) a printed box for each applicant to check indicating that the applicant wishes to make a voluntary contribution of $5 to promote healthy early childhood by supporting the Texas Home Visiting Program administered by the Office of Early Childhood Coordination of the Health and Human Services Commission.
(c) An applicant commits an offense if the applicant knowingly provides false information under Subsection (b)(1), (2), (3), or (4). An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.
(d) An applicant commits an offense if the applicant knowingly provides false information under Subsection (b)(5) or (6). An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.009. ISSUANCE OF LICENSE.
(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (d), the county clerk may not issue a license if either applicant:
(1) fails to provide the information required by this subchapter;
(2) fails to submit proof of age and identity;
(3) is under 18 years of age and has not presented:
(A) a court order granted by this state under Chapter 31 removing the disabilities of minority of the applicant for general purposes; or
(B) if the applicant is a nonresident minor, a certified copy of an order removing the disabilities of minority of the applicant for general purposes filed with this state under Section 31.007;
(4) checks "false" in response to a statement in the application, except as provided by Subsection (b) or (d), or fails to make a required declaration in an affidavit required of an absent applicant; or
(5) indicates that the applicant has been divorced within the last 30 days, unless:
(A) the applicants were divorced from each other; or
(B) the prohibition against remarriage is waived as provided by Section 6.802.
(b) If an applicant checks "false" in response to the statement "I am not presently married and the other applicant is not presently married," the county clerk shall inquire as to whether the applicant is presently married to the other applicant. If the applicant states that the applicant is currently married to the other applicant, the county clerk shall record that statement on the license before the administration of the oath. The county clerk may not refuse to issue a license on the ground that the applicants are already married to each other.
(c) On the proper execution of the application, the clerk shall:
(1) prepare the license;
(2) enter on the license the names of the licensees, the date that the license is issued, and, if applicable, the name of the person appointed to act as proxy for an absent applicant, if any;
(3) record the time at which the license was issued;
(4) distribute to each applicant written notice of the online location of the information prepared under Section 2.010 regarding acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and note on the license that the distribution was made; and
(5) inform each applicant:
(A) that a premarital education handbook developed by the child support division of the office of the attorney general under Section 2.014 is available on the child support division's Internet website; or
(B) if the applicant does not have Internet access, how the applicant may obtain a paper copy of the handbook described by Paragraph (A).
(d) The county clerk may not refuse to issue a license to an applicant on the ground that the applicant checked "false" in response to the statement "I am not presently delinquent in the payment of court-ordered child support."
(e) A license issued by a county clerk under this section:
(1) must identify the county in which the license is issued; and
(2) may include the name of the county clerk.
How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Texas
In Texas, the following persons are legally allowed to serve as an officiant for marriage solemnization:
- Christian ministers, Jewish rabbis and other persons that serve as officers of any religious organization or faith
- Judges and justices of any recognized courts, active or retired
- Persons who are ordained as ministers through the Universal Life Church Ministries can officiate wedding ceremonies throughout the United States, including Texas.
It is a class A misdemeanor for unauthorized ministers to knowingly conduct marriage ceremonies. Marrying a person below the age of 18 is a third-degree felony. Ordainment through the ULC grants all the rights and privileges that come with ministry, including conducting weddings throughout the Lone Star State. If this will be an area of focus within your ministry, we strongly recommend ordering the Classic Wedding Package. It includes proof of ordination, which you may be expected to show to a county clerk or other pertinent officials.
Show Legal Excerpt+
Tex. Fam. Code 2.202. PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT CEREMONY.
(a) The following persons are authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony:
(1) a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest;
(2) a Jewish rabbi;
(3) a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony;
(4) a justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of criminal appeals, justice of the courts of appeals, judge of the district, county, and probate courts, judge of the county courts at law, judge of the courts of domestic relations, judge of the juvenile courts, retired justice or judge of those courts, justice of the peace, retired justice of the peace, judge of a municipal court, retired judge of a municipal court, associate judge of a statutory probate court, retired associate judge of a statutory probate court, associate judge of a county court at law, retired associate judge of a county court at law, or judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state; and
(5) a retired judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state.
(b) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(4), a retired judge or justice is a former judge or justice who is vested in the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan One or the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan Two or who has an aggregate of at least 12 years of service as judge or justice of any type listed in Subsection (a)(4).
(b-1) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(5), a retired judge or magistrate is a former judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state who is fully vested in the Federal Employees Retirement System under 28 U.S.C. Section 371 or 377.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), a person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony without authorization under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony of a minor whose marriage is prohibited by law or of a person who by marrying commits an offense under Section 25.01, Penal Code. An offense under this subsection is a felony of the third degree.
Applying For a Marriage License in Texas
There’s a minimum waiting period of 72 hours or three days between the acquisition of the marriage license and solemnizing the union with a wedding ceremony.
Members of the United States Armed Forces who are on active duty as well as working Department of Defense employees may be exempted from this waiting period with a certificate of completion of an approved premarital education course within the past year. A relevant judge can also grant exemptions. Marriage licenses in Texas are valid for up to 90 days.
Show Legal Excerpt+
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.201. EXPIRATION OF LICENSE.
If a marriage ceremony has not been conducted before the 90th day after the date the license is issued, the marriage license expires.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.204. 72-HOUR WAITING PERIOD; EXCEPTIONS.
(a) Except as provided by this section, a marriage ceremony may not take place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license.
(b) The 72-hour waiting period after issuance of a marriage license does not apply to an applicant who:
(1) is a member of the armed forces of the United States and on active duty;
(2) is not a member of the armed forces of the United States but performs work for the United States Department of Defense as a department employee or under a contract with the department;
(3) obtains a written waiver under Subsection (c); or
(4) completes a premarital education course described by Section 2.013, and who provides to the county clerk a premarital education course completion certificate indicating completion of the premarital education course not more than one year before the date the marriage license application is filed with the clerk.
(c) An applicant may request a judge of a court with jurisdiction in family law cases, a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a county judge, or a judge of a court of appeals for a written waiver permitting the marriage ceremony to take place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license. If the judge finds that there is good cause for the marriage to take place during the period, the judge shall sign the waiver. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a judge under this section has the authority to sign a waiver under this section.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.206. RETURN OF LICENSE; PENALTY.
(a) The person who conducts a marriage ceremony shall record on the license the date on which and the county in which the ceremony is performed and the person's name, subscribe the license, and return the license to the county clerk who issued it not later than the 30th day after the date the ceremony is conducted.
(b) A person who fails to comply with this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500.
How to Get a Texas Marriage License
Marriage licenses must be picked up in person. The state will not mail them out. Couples can pick up the license by providing a valid and acceptable form of photo identification:
- State driver’s license
- Birth certificate
- Military dependent identification
- Pilot’s license
- Handgun license
The couple does not need to show proof of divorce, but a minimum of 30 days must have passed since the finalization of all divorces before a new marriage license application can be submitted and processed. Only an authorized court can waive this minimum waiting period requirement.
The cost for a marriage license is determined by the county where the application is filed. Applicants should expect to pay between $70 and $100. Licenses are valid throughout the state.
Show Legal Excerpt+
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.005. PROOF OF IDENTITY AND AGE.
(a) The county clerk shall require proof of the identity and age of each applicant.
(b) The proof must be established by:
(1) a driver's license or identification card issued by this state, another state, or a Canadian province that is current or has expired not more than two years preceding the date the identification is submitted to the county clerk in connection with an application for a license;
(2) a United States passport;
(3) a current passport issued by a foreign country or a consular document issued by a state or national government;
(4) an unexpired Certificate of United States Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, United States Citizen Identification Card, Permanent Resident Card, Temporary Resident Card, Employment Authorization Card, or other document issued by the federal Department of Homeland Security or the United States Department of State including an identification photograph;
(5) an unexpired military identification card for active duty, reserve, or retired personnel with an identification photograph;
(6) an original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a bureau of vital statistics for a state or a foreign government;
(7) an original or certified copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certificate of Birth Abroad issued by the United States Department of State;
(8) an original or certified copy of a court order relating to the applicant's name change or sex change;
(9) school records from a secondary school or institution of higher education;
(10) an insurance policy continuously valid for the two years preceding the date of the application for a license;
(11) a motor vehicle certificate of title;
(12) military records, including documentation of release or discharge from active duty or a draft record;
(13) an unexpired military dependent identification card;
(14) an original or certified copy of the applicant's marriage license or divorce decree;
(15) a voter registration certificate;
(16) a pilot's license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration or another authorized agency of the United States;
(17) a license to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code;
(18) a temporary driving permit or a temporary identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety; or
(19) an offender identification card issued by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly provides false, fraudulent, or otherwise inaccurate proof of an applicant's identity or age under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.002. APPLICATION FOR LICENSE.
Except as provided by Section 2.006, each person applying for a license must:
(1) appear before the county clerk;
(2) submit the person's proof of identity and age as provided by Section 2.005(b);
(3) provide the information applicable to that person for which spaces are provided in the application for a marriage license;
(4) mark the appropriate boxes provided in the application; and
(5) take the oath printed on the application and sign the application before the county clerk.
Finalizing the Union
According to state regulations, the officiating minister must record the date and the county where the marriage ceremony is held. As part of the marriage license, the minister is expected to provide a title, the relevant church or religious organization (in this case, Universal Life Church Ministries) and a residential address.
Improperly or inadequately completing the marriage license form is considered an offense that comes with a fine ranging anywhere from $200 to $500.