To get married in Georgia, you will need to apply for a marriage license. This is done through the county probate court, and some counties allow you to begin the application online.
The good news is that a Georgia marriage license is valid for six months, so you can begin the process early. Often, it's best to take care of this legal aspect at least a month before your wedding date, so everything's in order for the big day.
Residency and ID Requirements
If you live in the state of Georgia, you can apply for a marriage license in any county. You do not have to be a resident of Georgia to be married in the state. However, if neither of you is a resident, you must apply in the county where your marriage is to be performed.
You both need to be present to obtain your marriage license. A valid form of identification is required. That can be a driver's license, passport, or birth certificate. If it's not in English, you will need to have it translated by a notary.
The application will also ask you about your parents. Be prepared with their full names (including maiden names) and the place (city and state) where they were born.
In Georgia, you can receive credit for the marriage license fee if you attend premarital education. The class must be at least six hours long and will typically cover common marital topics like financial planning and conflict resolution. You will need a certificate from the program to take to the county when applying for your license.
If either of you was previously married, you will need to provide a copy of the official divorce decree or death certificate. Bring this documentation with you to the court. Ensure the divorce decree is dated and signed by a judge. A divorce agreement is not acceptable.
There is no waiting period for getting married in Georgia. Unless problems arise at court, you will receive your license that day and be able to have a ceremony immediately.
The cost of a marriage license varies from one county to another. In general, you can expect between $60 and $80 for the fee. This will be decreased by about $40 with proof of premarital counseling or education.
In many counties, the license fee is payable only in cash. Some will accept other forms of payment, but it's best to check with your county before going to court.
As of July 1, 2003, blood tests are no longer required in Georgia.
Only common-law marriages created before January 1, 1997, will be recognized in Georgia.
Proxy marriages are not allowed in Georgia. Both of you must be present to apply for the license and at the wedding ceremony.
Georgia changed the laws in 2006 concerning the minimum age to get married. The Georgia State website states: "While in some counties you may marry at 16 years of age, you must be at least 18 years old to get married without parental consent."
The legal age to marry varies by location and counties that allow minors of 16 or 17 years of age to marry require both parents or legal guardians to give consent to the marriage in person, with proper identification. You will also need to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate. In some counties, a probate judge also has to approve the marriage license application.
Anyone under the age of 16 cannot obtain a marriage license in Georgia.
In Georgia, you may be able to marry a first cousin. The Georgia Probate Court states that you cannot marry a parent or child, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle, whether by blood or marriage.
Same-sex marriage became legal in June 2015. This was a result of the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges, in which the court found it unconstitutional to ban gay marriage. It applies anywhere in the country.
Members of the clergy, as well as anyone authorized by a religious society or sect, can perform a marriage ceremony. Additionally, the Governor (or former), judges, magistrates, and city recorders affiliated with Georgia may officiate a wedding.
After receiving your marriage license, it is valid for six months. You will need to have the wedding ceremony within that time. If you don't, you'll have to reapply and pay the fee again.
The marriage license is not the same as the marriage certificate. After the ceremony, your officiant will file the license with the county to be recorded. You will then receive a marriage certificate in the mail.
Due to the fact that state and county requirements and laws change often, it's best to check with your county court to verify all the information you need to get a marriage license. In Georgia, specifically, each county has different requirements.
The information here is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice. When in doubt, consult an attorney who specializes in family law.