A new marriage law in Alabama will go into effect on Thursday, Aug. 29, after lawmakers in this year’s legislative session approved a bill that changes the documents and proceedings necessary for a marriage to be valid.
The new law allows that couples can marry by completing a state-provided form and getting it notarized before delivering the form to a Probate Office for recording.
“Under the new law, persons wishing to become married are no longer required to file an application for a marriage license with the county probate court, and the courts will no longer issue marriage licenses,” a draft of the new guidelines states. “Furthermore, all Alabama probate courts will now be required to record marriage certificates. The Alabama Marriage Certificate form represents a contractual agreement between the parties to the marriage, completed by both parties and delivered to the probate court solely for recording. Once properly completed and recorded, the marriage is valid.”
No wedding ceremony is required, according to the new law, but one may be performed.
The form must be notarized before it can be brought in for filing, and it must be filed in the Probate Office within 30 days of being signed. The fee is $93.
The probate court will not provide notary services to any of the signatories to the form, according to the draft.
These changes actually make becoming married easier because there are fewer steps involved with the new law.
Currently, couples are required to bring proof of identification and other paperwork to the Probate Office within 30 days prior to their wedding date. After obtaining a license, the couple must have a ceremony and are required to remit signed paperwork back to the Probate Office within 30 days after the wedding date.
The new law removes the need for a license to be obtained in advance, according to the Coffee County Probate Office.
Other requirements surrounding marriage -- such as being of minimum age and not presently married --have not changed based on the new law. The information requested on the affidavit is also essentially the same as what couples previously had to provide, which is basic information about each spouse.
The Probate Office must receive and file the original form, and the effective date of the marriage is the latter of the dates of the signatures of the spouses.
The required form and instructions will be available online through the Department of Public Health.
Current licenses issued for marriage are valid through Aug. 28. Couples planning to get married Aug. 29 or later will need to comply with the new law and procedure.