The legalities of getting married

Let me start by saying every country and every state in the US have different laws regarding the legalities of getting married.  Since marriage laws and requirements change often it is best to be in direct contact with the county, state or country where you plan to be married and not rely on a Google search for your information. 

Marriage is defined as “the legal union of two people.”  In most US states the couple, a marriage license and the officiant are all that is needed to constitute a legal marriage. Signing of the marriage license is your written agreement, your ceremony constitutes a verbal contract and the signature of the officiant on the marriage license certifies a ceremony has taken place.   

In Florida . . .

  • You must be eighteen (18) years of age to be married without parental consent. 
  • Same-sex marriage is legal. 
  • Blood tests are not required. 
  • A marriage license can be issued by any Florida Clerk of Court’s office.
  • The ceremony must take place in Florida.
  • There is a three (3) day waiting period if you are a Florida resident.
  • There is no waiting period if you are not a Florida resident. 
  • The completed license must be returned by mail or in-person to the issuing Clerk of Court’s office within 10 days of the ceremony. 

There are 12 US states that recognize “common law” marriage.  Years ago, it was believed that if a couple lived together for 7 years, they are considered to have a common law marriage.   If you have lived together in one of the following states check the current laws. 

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

Other legalities and responsibilities for couples to discuss prior to their wedding are as follows. The topics listed may be difficult to discuss. 

Getting married in a foreign country? 

Will the marriage be recognized as a legal marriage in your residing country?

What are the requirements to get married in a foreign country? 

What paperwork is required by the foreign country and by your residing country?


Are there plans to have children?

 If, YES, how many?

Will guardians be appointed?

Will your children be home schooled, go to public or to private school?      

Who will someone stay home while your children are babies?


Will only one religion be recognized?

 Which religion will the children follow?


Who will be the breadwinner?

Will both continue to work?

 Will all monies be deposited into one joint account?

  Will monies be split into separate accounts?

  Who is responsible for paying the bills?


Will any/all properties be considered as joint properties?

Will any/all property expenses be assumed by one or both spouses?  

Pre-nuptial agreement

 Will you consider having a pre-nuptial agreement?


 Will you file jointly or separately?

Changing your name

 Will the bride or groom change their name?


If a pension is involved there will be paperwork to complete once the marriage has taken place. 

Family planning

Do you have a last will or a living trust?

What happens when one of you die or have a serious illness?

What happens if you divorce?

What happens when your parents die or have a serious illness?

The above information is meant to get a conversation started between couples.