Family Law


How can people be married?

Most people are married through a ceremony performed by a religious figure or a secular figure authorized by the state to perform marriages. Many people are married in churches or chapels by a minister of one of the person’s church. Others are married at the local courthouse by a judge or justice of the peace. Still others are married by a family friend who has the authority as a lay person to perform marriages. These unions are referred to as ceremonial marriages, because the institution or process of marriage is performed through a ceremony.

The parties to a marriage must provide their names, addresses, ages and social security numbers to obtain a marriage license from a county clerk. Other states require applicants to also disclose their places of birth and their current occupations. Those applicants who have been previously married may have to disclose information about those prior marriages. The applicants must swear that the provided information is true in most states. The clerk then gives the parties the license, which they provide to the person performing the marriage ceremony. In fact, in a few states (South Carolina is an example) a person who performs a marriage ceremony without receiving a valid marriage license from the parties can be punished and fined.


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