You can help make your Texas wedding less stressful by knowing about the marriage laws and regulations of Texas. To get your marriage license, you will need to bring the required documents to a county clerk office and fill out an application.
Texas does have a waiting period and encourages premarital education, though it's not required. For these reasons, you'll want to start thinking about getting your license well ahead of your wedding date. It's often best to take care of this matter about a month before the ceremony.
Residency and ID Requirements
Neither one of you has to be a resident of Texas. This is good for out-of-state couples because Texas is a great locale for a destination wedding. Additionally, the Texas marriage license can be used if your ceremony is in another state. However, it must be recorded in the Texas county where you applied for it.
In Texas, you will need one valid form of identification that proves your age. This may be a drivers license, certified copy of your birth certificate, U.S. passport, or military ID card. You will also need to know your Social Security numbers.
After receiving your license, there is a 72-hour (3 days) waiting period in Texas before you can have the ceremony. This can be waived for active duty military personnel.
According to Texas law, couples are encouraged to attend a premarital education course. This must be approved by the state and cover important marital skills and issues such as conflict management and communication. It must be at least eight hours in duration and finished during the year preceding your application for a marriage license.
If you decide to go this route, $60 of the marriage license fee and the waiting period will be waived. Contact the county clerk for a roster of providers in your area.
The cost of a marriage license will vary by county. Generally, you can expect to pay between $60 and $80 without the premarital education credit.
Many counties will only accept cash, so don't leave home without it! Some will take credit or debit cards, but you may incur a small convenience fee for using those methods.
If one of you is divorced, you must wait at least 30 days after the divorce has been finalized in order to get a new marriage license. A copy of the divorce decree may not be required, but it's best to check with the county before applying for a new license.
Blood tests or medical examinations are not required in Texas.
Renewal of Vows and Remarriage
According to Texas state laws, a county clerk must issue a marriage license to a couple who is already married to each other if they want to get married again. It doesn't matter if the couple was previously secretly married or just wants to renew their marriage vows.
Marriage by proxy in Texas is limited to individuals serving in the military who are stationed outside of the country.
You can apply to marry someone who is in prison, but marriages cannot be conducted inside Texas prisons. As of September 2013, House Bill 869 prohibits inmates from using a proxy to get married as well.
However, the incarcerated party can apply for the license without being present, though they must be present for the ceremony. This process cannot be used to apply for an informal (common-law) marriage.
You will have to use the Absent Applicant Affidavit form, which must be notarized. You will also need to send a proxy with your future spouse to apply for the license and provide a copy of an acceptable form of identification.
Common-Law Marriage or Informal Marriage
Texas refers to a common-law marriage as an "informal marriage." Individuals under the age of 18 may not enter into an informal marriage.
For a marriage to be declared an informal marriage in Texas, a couple has two options: sign the Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage at a county clerk office or live together as a married couple. With the second option, you must agree that you are married and represent that fact to others.
Child Support Statement
A law in Texas since September of 1995, each of you must declare whether or not you are delinquent on court-ordered child support on the marriage license application.
If you are between 16 and 17 years old, you may apply for a marriage license in Texas only with a court order. For minors who are not Texas residents, a court order from their home state can be used.
It is illegal to marry a first cousin in the state of Texas.
Texas has never passed a same-sex marriage law. However, you can get married in the state. This is due to the June 2015 ruling of Obergefell vs. Hodges by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that decision, the Justices found it unconstitutional to deny gay couples the right to marry.
Persons authorized to perform weddings in Texas include licensed or ordained Christian ministers, priests, Jewish rabbis, and officers authorized by religious organizations. You can also be married by justices or judges or a justice of the peace (current or retired).
The marriage license is valid in Texas for 90 days. After receiving your license, you must have the ceremony within that time. Failing to do so means you need to apply and pay the fee again.
Copy of Certificate of Marriage
You can request a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the county clerk office where the license was filed. There is a small cost for each copy and many counties offer the option of requesting it in person or through the mail.
Alternatively, you can place a request for a marriage verification letter through the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. This is not a certified copy of your certificate, but a letter stating that a marriage is on record.
The information provided here is intended to be guidance only. It should not be used as legal advice. It's also important to note that state and county marriage license requirements change often. It's best to verify all information with the county clerk and seek the advice of an attorney when needed.