How can I get a marriage license in Florida?

Understanding the Process of Obtaining a Marriage License in Florida

Securing a marriage license is a critical step for couples planning to wed in the Sunshine State. Florida, known for its picturesque beaches and warm climate, has long been a popular destination for weddings. Whether you are a resident or planning a destination wedding, understanding the legal requirements for obtaining a marriage license in Florida is essential.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a marriage license in Florida, both partners must be at least 18 years old. If either party is under 18 but at least 16 years old, parental consent or a county judge's approval may be required. All applicants must provide proof of age and identity through acceptable documents such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport.

Application Process

The journey towards marital bliss begins at any county clerk's office in Florida, where the couple must fill out an application form. The application asks for pertinent information including full names, social security numbers (if applicable), and details of any previous marriages. If either party has been married before, they must provide the exact date of divorce, death, or annulment.

Waiting Period and Marriage Preparation Course

Florida law requires a mandatory 3-day waiting period between obtaining the license and the legal authorization to marry; however, this can be waived if both parties have completed a state-approved marriage preparation course. This course not only provides valuable information about marital life but also reduces the marriage license fee.

Fees and Discounts

The standard fee for a marriage license is set by each county and can vary, but it's typically around $93.50. Couples who opt to take the marriage preparation course receive a discount on this fee. It's important to note that some counties may offer additional discounts for Florida residents.

Ceremony and Legalization

Once the marriage license is issued, it is valid for 60 days during which the wedding ceremony must take place. The ceremony can be officiated by an ordained minister, priest, rabbi, or a judicial officer such as a judge. After the ceremony, the officiant must sign the license and return it to the county clerk's office for official recording.

Historical Context

The practice of requiring a marriage license dates back centuries as a way for governments to record and legalize marriages. In Florida, obtaining a marriage license became standardized as part of state governance to ensure that all marriages meet legal standards and to maintain accurate public records.

Conclusion

In summary, obtaining a marriage license in Florida involves meeting eligibility requirements, completing an application process, potentially attending a premarital course, paying applicable fees, observing any waiting period, performing the ceremony within the validity period of the license, and ensuring proper filing post-ceremony. As with any legal process, it's essential to check with your local county clerk's office for specific guidelines and up-to-date information.