Thursday, December 4, 2008

Free Marriage Records

By Ben Dave

Marriage is much more serious than it's treated by many. In the US, the state steps in to help make the point. Like other cosmopolitan environments, there are variations among the ethnic and religious groups in joining people in matrimony. The requirements can also differ from state to state but people other than the couple are always involved. Yes, there will be a conducting official.

Legal witnesses of the ceremony are also required in certain states. Even God and deceased ancestors may also be involved by religious and customary practices. Rejection and protest from certain religious groups or beliefs notwithstanding, it is mandated by law that a marriage can only legally proceed after a Marriage License has been obtained from the state authorities.

The requisites for application are typically age, identity, residency, medical examinations and clearance from any previous marriages if any. They can be issued by the state of residence of the couple or where the marriage ceremony is planned to be officially conducted. Fees are usually nominal but lead time can be long, up to a month in some states.

After the ceremony, the license is then signed off by the new couple and the official to file for certification and the issuance of the Marriage Certificate. Both the license and certificate are then entered as public marriage records into the respective files of the new spouses. They will then be maintained as public records at the county or state where the marriage has taken place, whichever is the revailing practice. Being public records, they will be subject to public retrieval and view as long as procedures are complied with and fees are paid.

Same-sex, or gay marriages are a little bit trickier. They are recognized in less than half the states. A handful others are fuzzy about it, recognizing them as legal union and offering explicit marriage rights and responsibilities while not calling them marriages. Be prepared for some surprises with such states.

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