Licenses no longer needed for marriages

Published 1:01 am Saturday, May 25, 2019

New law requires forms, affadavits, but no ceremony

A new law which eliminates the state requirement for a license – and the need to “solemnize” a wedding ceremony – should make getting married more convenient.

The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday gave final passage to the bill, which will become law 90 days after Gov. Kay Ivey signs it into law.

At present, Alabamians are required to purchase a marriage license from a probate judge. However, many probate judges stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruled states cannot ban same-sex marriages. 

In 2015, then-Probate Judge Ben Bowden announced the closing of the Covington County marriage license division. Couples were still required to have marriage licenses, but  had to travel to a county in which the probate judge had not made a similar decision.

The bill that passed Thursday provides that two parties desiring to enter into a marriage must record certain affidavits, forms and data with the  probate judge’s office. The bill provides that the Alabama Law Institute will prepare forms to meet the minimum requirements of the act.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton, a Republican from Escambia County, states that probate judges would be required to accept and record the official marriage documents.

“It allows everybody in the state now to go to their local courthouse to accomplish this without traveling somewhere else,” Albritton said. “Which is the intent of the law.”

The bill would also end the requirement that a marriage be “solemnized” by a minister or another person qualified to do so. Albritton said he thought it was appropriate to separate that religious component of marriage from the state law.

Brooks said in a press release that the Covington County marriage license division will reopen when the law becomes effective and her office receives the appropriate forms from the Alabama Law Institute.