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New marriage laws go into effect next week

Attention couples who are planning weddings in the near future, new changes will take effect next week in Alabama’s law.

During the 2019 Alabama Legislative Session, lawmakers approved a bill that changes the documents and proceedings necessary for a marriage to be valid. That law will take effect Aug. 29, 2019. On that date, the Covington County Marriage License Division will reopen.

In 2015, many probate judges stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruled states could not ban same-sex marriages. Former Probate Judge Ben Bowden announced the closing of the Covington County marriage license division that same year. 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.

According to Covington County Probate Judge Stacy Brooks, the new law simplifies the marriage process.

“Under the new law, a couple who wants to marry simply has to complete the form provided by the State and take the form to the Probate Office for recording, along with the recording fee, within 30 days of being signed,” Brooks said. “Each person’s signature on the form must be notarized. Other requirements pertaining to marriage, such as being of minimum age and not being currently married, will not change under the new law. The information requested on the form is essentially the same as what couples had to provide in the past.”

The recording fee under the new law will be $75.50 for two adults. If one party is a minor, the cost will be $78.50 because of additional paper work that must be recorded.

The required form and instructions will be available in the Probate Office and online through the Department of Public Health. There will be a link to the form on the Covington County webpage, covingtonprobateoffice.com.

The Probate Office will record the original form and a certified copy of the documents will be provided to the couple for their personal records. If the couple signs on different days, the effective date of the marriage will be the date of the last signature.