A new law passed by the Alabama Legislature has changed the marriage process.
Beginning Aug. 29, filing an application for a marriage license with the county probate court will no longer be a necessary step in the marriage process in Alabama. The courts will no longer be issuing marriage licenses. Instead, there is now an Alabama Marriage Certificate form that should be completed by the persons entering into marriage, notarized and delivered to the probate court for recording. The marriage becomes legal once the certificate is properly completed, notarized, handed over to the county probate court and all fees are paid.
According to the old law, the person who was legally marrying a couple had to be an ordained minister, a judge, a retired judge, or a pastor with 20 or more members in his or her congregation. Now, under the law, a wedding ceremony is optional and is no longer required for a recognized marriage in Alabama.
During a conference call Aug. 22, at the DeKalb County Courthouse, DeKalb County Probate Judge Ronnie Osborn, along with the other probate judges across the state, listened to Marengo County Probate Judge Laurie Hall discuss the marriage law changes and the new Alabama Marriage Certificate form.
Hall said one of the main purposes of the bill is to remove any authority from the marriage process so that nobody’s rights could be denied.
“I have been one of those people who have followed it [the law] since its origination,” she said. “One of the intents of this bill is to remove any authority, obligation or ability to grant approval of or deny any persons right to be married.”
Osborn said the day the probate court has a copy of the form will be the couple’s legal wedding anniversary.
“As soon as it is notarized and we get a copy of it, that’s it, they are married and that’s their wedding day,” Osborn said.
The new Alabama Marriage Certificate form can be accessed online at the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website at http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/vitalrecords/marriage-certificate.html. There is one form for adults, who are persons 18 years of age and older, and there is a form for minors, who are persons 16 to 17 years of age.
The new law allows for minors to be legally married in the state of Alabama.
If you are under the age of 18, but are at least 16 years of age, and have never been married, you can still marry in the state of Alabama with the consent of a parent or guardian. The consenting parent(s) or guardian(s) must complete page 2 of the Marriage Certificate form, entitled “Affidavit of Consent for Marriage of a Minor.”
For the marriage to be valid, the marriage form completed by the spouses and the Affidavit of Consent must be presented together to the probate court for recording. The final Marriage Certificate will be a two-page document.
Fees do apply, but every county probate court in Alabama sets its own fees for recording documents. Call the office of the probate court or go online to look at the court’s website to find a list of the recording fees.
It was decided after the conference call that DeKalb County Courthouse clerks would not be providing notary services for Affidavit of Consent for Marriage of a Minor forms or for Alabama Marriage Certificate forms.
Notaries are available at many locations, though, including banks, public libraries, UPS stores, AAA, and some pharmacies. A list of commissioned notaries is available at the Alabama Secretary of State’s website at https://ww.sos.alabama.gove/administrative-services/notaries-public.
Paper copies of the Affidavit of Consent for Marriage of a Minor forms and the Alabama Marriage Certificate may be requested from the center for Health and Statistics by calling 334-206-2707. Handwritten forms should be printed and legible because the form is the only document the parties will receive as proof of marriage.