Marriage Procedures and Requirements 7

Getting married is a pretty straightforward process in the U.S. However, marriage laws do vary from state to state. In general, the couple wishing to be married must obtain a license from the state where the marriage is to take place. To obtain this license, almost all states require that the couple consist of a man and a woman.

The couple will most likely have to pay a fee for the license and most states require a waiting period that can range anywhere from one day to one week. Couples may be asked to submit to a physical before the license is granted and in some states, blood tests must be submitted to determine if either party has a venereal disease. This does not include a test for AIDS and, depending upon your state, you may or may not be allowed to marry if a venereal disease is confirmed. In addition to blood tests, some states also require proof of immunization against certain diseases.

To qualify for your marriage license you must be mentally capable of understanding what you are about to do and be at least 18 years of age (the age of consent), however many states allow for those who are 16 and 17 years of age to marry with the consent of a parent or by permission of a judge. While there are some states that allow first cousins to marry, most states forbid marriage to a close blood-relative (incest). Those that do allow first cousin marriages often require that at least one of the parties be infertile and, therefore, unable to conceive. You cannot be drunk when you get married nor can you be married to someone else (bigamy), unless that marriage was dissolved through divorce, annulment or death.

Once you have obtained your license, the ceremony must be performed by someone authorized by the state to do so, usually a judge or ordained religious leader and must be witnessed by a third party (some states require two witnesses). The official presiding over the ceremony will normally have witnesses on hand to satisfy this requirement. The ceremony may be civil or religious, depending upon your preference and both are considered to be equally valid.


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