Georgia Court Records
Georgia Marriage Records
Georgia marriage records are the official recordings of couples' marriages. They provide information about the individuals involved in the marriage ceremony and the marriage ceremony event. Georgia marriage records are available at the State Office of Vital Records and the Probate Court Clerk in the county where the marriage occurred.
Typically, Georgia marriage records contain information such as the full names of the bride and groom, the date of marriage, the county where the marriage license is issued, and the location of the marriage. Additionally, Georgia marriage records include information such as the age of the couple, their birthplaces, current residences, gender, and race. Georgia marriage records may also provide information on:
- The names of the officiants and witnesses to the union
- Details of the marriage license, including the license number
- Marriage official registration location
- The office responsible for recording and maintaining the marriage records.
What Types of Marriage Records are available in Georgia?
The following types of marriage records are available in Georgia:
- Marriage licenses.
- Marriage certificates.
- Marriage verifications.
A marriage certificate is a legal document issued by a county official affirming the union between two individuals. The county government issues marriage certificates to signify that the marriage has taken place. Marriage certificates have no validity period and only become invalid at the dissolution of the marriage. In Georgia, couples can expect to receive their marriage certificates by mail within 30 days after the marriage officiant returns the marriage license. Georgia marriage certificates serve legal and official purposes, including providing evidence of name change, obtaining benefits, participating in divorce proceedings, applying for a passport, establishing the legitimacy of a child, and conducting genealogical research.
A marriage license is a legal document permitting couples to marry. Marriage licenses are obtained by the couple before the marriage, proving that the couple can legally get married without encumbrances. Persons planning to get married in Georgia must obtain marriage licenses from the Probate Court in the county of their choice. There is no waiting period after the marriage license issuance in Georgia. Therefore, couples can get married immediately after obtaining marriage licenses.
However, the marriage licenses are valid for a limited period. Georgia marriage license is valid for 60 days, within which couples must conduct the wedding ceremony. Couples must return the signed marriage license within 30 days of the marriage ceremony. Where the marriage does not take place within the stipulated period, the marriage license becomes void, and couples must reapply for a new license if they wish to still proceed with the marriage. To obtain marriage licenses in Georgia, the couple must appear in person at the probate court to apply for the license.
Marriage verification is the process of confirming the existence and details of a marriage. In Georgia, parties not sure of the county where a marriage occurred or require the marriage information for genealogical purposes may request marriage verification. Marriages conducted after January 1st, 2014, must fill out the Marriage Verification Request Form, while marriages held before the date may request the document from the County Probate Office.
Are Georgia Marriage Records Public?
Yes, Georgia marriage records are public records, making the information within them accessible to the public. The Georgia Open Records Act is the legal framework that addresses public access to government records in the state. The Act gives the public the right to access, inspect, and copy all public records, including marriage records. However, while marriage records are considered public records, there are certain conditions and limitations in place to protect the privacy of individuals, which include:
- Privacy Considerations: Although marriage records are public, specific details within them, especially those about recent marriages, may be restricted to protect the privacy of the individuals. Sensitive information, such as the social security number or addresses, may be redacted or restricted from the marriage record.
- Demonstration of Direct Interest: Parties requesting Georgia marriage records may be required to demonstrate a direct and tangible interest in the records.
How to Find Marriage Records in Georgia
The State Office of Vital Records and the Probate Court Clerk provide certified copies of marriage records in Georgia. Marriage records for weddings conducted from June 1952 to August 1996 are available at the State Office, while the Probate Court issues copies of marriage records conducted before 1952 or after 1996.
To obtain Georgia marriage records, requestors must first identify the county where the marriage took place. Requesters of Georgia marriage records may then fill out the Request for Search of Marriage Record Form. To gather the documents required for a complete application, interested parties must submit a photocopy of valid photo identification cards and pay the fees. The fee for marriage records is $10, payable with a certified check, Visa or MasterCard, or money order. There is a $5 fee for each additional copy of the same marriage record requested.
Georgia marriage records are not available online. Persons ordering Georgia marriage records may request copies by mail or in person. To request marriage records by mail, applicants can mail the completed form, fees, and supporting documents to:
State Office of Vital Records
1680 Phoenix Boulevard, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30349
To request the marriage record in person, visit the State Office of Vital Records or any of the County Vital Records Offices in person with the relevant application documents. Both offices are open for in-person marriage records requests from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (except for state holidays). The State and County Office of Vital Records accepts cash payments for in-person requests for marriage records.
How to Get a Marriage License in Georgia
Marriage licenses and marriage certificates are distinct legal documents related to the marriage process, but they serve different purposes. Couples obtain marriage licenses before the wedding ceremony, granting permission for the marriage. Certificates, serving as proof that the marriage ceremony occurred, are issued after the wedding. Applicants for a marriage license in Georgia can apply for one at any county probate court. They will only be issued if:
- They are of sound mind
- Are at least 18 years of age
- Have no living spouse from a previous un-dissolved marriage
- At least one of the parties intending to get married is a resident of Georgia
Both parties need to be present before they are issued a marriage license. If neither party is a resident of Georgia, the marriage license must be issued in the county where the marriage is to take place. Applicants for a marriage license will need to provide:
- Proof of identity (acceptable options include but are not limited to unexpired or expired for not more than a year Georgia or other states’ driver's license, unexpired U.S. Passport, and State of Georgia identification card)
- Proof of age (original or certified copy of a birth certificate, driver’s license, or valid passport)
- Proof of divorce (where applicable)
- A method of payment (acceptable options include cash, credit or debit cards, money order, or certified funds)
The couple should return the signed marriage license to the probate court within 30 days of the ceremony and will receive their marriage certificate in the mail within 30 days.
In certain situations, a 17-year-old can receive a marriage license if they meet additional statutory conditions. These conditions include:
- The juvenile court has granted a petition for the emancipation of the juvenile, and the juvenile presents the certified copy of the emancipation order
- The older partner in the proposed marriage is no more than four years older than the 17-year-old
- The 17-year-old applicant has completed Georgia premarital education with their partner within 12 months before the application (O.C.G.A § 19-3-30.1) even if the other partner is older than 18 years
- It has been at least 15 days after the order granting the emancipation
Applicants should note that there are variations to the procedures for marriage license applications per county. Applicants can find the location of the probate court in their county or desired county using the Georgia Courts Directory search link on the official website of Georgia. A Georgia marriage license fee is $56 or $16 for couples who have completed the Georgia premarital education program.
Who can obtain Marriage Records in Georgia?
Georgia marriage records are considered open records and are generally available to the public. However, authorities may restrict specific details within the records from public access. Generally, in Georgia, the following persons are eligible to request and obtain marriage records:
- The persons named on the marriage certificate, the bride and groom, have the right to obtain their marriage record
- Immediate family members of the couple, including parents, siblings, adult child or sibling of grandparents, and grandchildren of the persons named on the certificate. However, immediate family members may need to show proof of a relationship and demonstrate a direct and tangible interest in obtaining the marriage records
- Legal representatives such as attorneys. Legal representatives must represent either of the persons named on the marriage record. Attorneys must provide a notarized letter duly signed by the attorney indicating their reason for the request. The letter must contain their bar number and any other supporting documentation
- State or federal government officials may request access to marriage records for official purposes such as verifying information or processing legal transactions
- Authorities may grant access to Georgia marriage records for genealogical researchers or historians.
- Legal guardians who can provide a certified copy of the court order establishing guardianship and legal custody can request and obtain Georgia marriage records
- Persons with legal intent can request marriage records in Georgia. Such individuals must demonstrate a direct and tangible interest in the marriage record. For instance, individuals involved in legal proceedings may request marriage records if the record is relevant to the court case
There are legal requirements for individuals seeking marriage records in Georgia. They include:
- Provide proof of relationship to the individuals named on the marriage record. Such proof must contain direct and tangible interest in the record
- Providing a valid form of photo identification such as a driver's license, passport, or any government-issued identification cards
- Complete the application form providing details of the bride and groom, including their full names and date of marriage
- Pay the required fees
Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Georgia
Yes, there are online marriage records for free in Georgia. These records provide information such as:
- Images of marriage licenses acquired in Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia from 1950 to 2005
- Index to marriage records from the state of Georgia from 1808 to 1967 (provide name, name of spouse, even location and date)
- Index and digital images of marriages recorded in Georgia counties from 1785 to 1950
- Index of Georgia marriages from 1699 to 1944
- Index and images of selected Georgia church marriages from 1754 to 1960
The Georgia State Office of Vital Records does not provide marriage records online. Third-party sources provide access to these records upon registration on their website. Online access to these records prevents the need to visit the Georgia State Office of Vital Records or the relevant county probate court for access to marriage records. This is quite convenient for requesters of marriage records.
Note that currently, from 1996 to the present, marriage records are held exclusively by the probate court in the marriage venue's county, and there are no online indexes for Georgia marriage records for this period.
Is Georgia a Common Law State for Marriage?
No, Georgia is not a common law state for marriage. A common law marriage is one in which the parties choose to live together as if married without going ahead with a wedding ceremony. The authorities will recognize them as married since they do everything as if married, even though they may not have formalized the relationship legally. Although Georgia was once a common law state for marriage, the law has changed, and as of January 1, 1997, Georgia no longer permits common law marriages (Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 19-3-1.1). However, Georgia still recognizes common law marriages started before January 1, 1997. Currently, in Georgia, couples creating marital-type relationships must legalize their marriage formally to be recognized as married in Georgia.
Georgia recognizes common-law marriages from other states where common-law marriages are legal, such as Alabama, Colorado, the District of Columbia (DC), Kansas, South Carolina, Montana, Utah, Iowa, Texas, and Rhode Island. Georgia also recognizes common law marriages started in states where they are now illegal if the couple started the marriages before they became illegal, such as in Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Ohio, where they were formally legal.
The criteria for acceptance of common law marriages from other states is indicative proof to the public that the couple assented (agreed) to the marriage through their actions. These actions include living together, sharing a bedroom, collectively purchasing property, sharing bills for utility accounts such as gas and electricity, making a name change that matches the spouse’s name, and having joint rental agreements.