Although marriage is a common procedure, and technically is a contract between two individuals, the process typically doesn't require much intervention by legal professionals. Still, it's important to understand the basic laws governing marriage before tying the knot. The following information will give you a snapshot of Illinois' marriage laws, including the basics of marriage licenses and how to change your name if you choose to do so.
Illinois Marriage Laws at a Glance
If you're planning on getting married, you'd probably rather spend more time on your guest list and honeymoon plans than trying to decipher stuffy legal codes. We've made it easy for you by listing the pertinent details of Illinois marriage laws in the table below.
Illinois Statutes Chapter 750, Section 5/201, et seq.
In order to get a marriage license in Illinois, you must meet the following requirements:
- Both parties must be at least 18 years old (or at least 16 with proof of consent of both parents); and
- A county clerk must provide you with a free health information pamphlet, which has information about sexually transmitted infections and inherited metabolic diseases.
The application for the marriage license must include the following:
- Name, address, sex, date of birth;
- Any previous marriage information (i.e. divorces, invalid marriages, or death of a former spouse);
- Name and address of parents or guardians (if applicable); and
- Whether the applicants are related to each other (if related, the relationship must be disclosed).
|Validity of Marriage
Certain marriages are prohibited in the state of Illinois, including:
- When a former marriage is undissolved;
- Marriages between close relations (ancestor/descendant, brother/sister, uncle/niece, aunt/nephew, half or whole first cousins, unless parties older than 50 and no chance of reproduction); and
- Common law marriages.
As in other states, those wishing to marry in Illinois must meet minimum age requirements:
- 18, without parental consent;
- 16, with parental consent (both parents, if both have capacity to give consent); or
- 16, with judicial consent if no parents are available to consent and the court determines parties are capable of In addition to having a valid marriage license, marriage in Illinois requires solemnification in order to be official. Once the ceremony takes place (i.e., the marriage is "solemnified"), the County Clerk's office will register the marriage.
Those Authorized to Perform Weddings
Ceremony and Solemnification of Marriage
In addition to having a valid marriage license, marriage in Illinois requires solemnification in order to be official. Once the ceremony takes place (i.e., the marriage is "solemnified"), the County Clerk's office will register the marriage.
Those Authorized to Perform Weddings
- State or federal judges (active or retired, although retired judges may not be paid);
- Illinois Court of Claims judges; or
- "in accordance with the prescriptions of any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe, or Native Group."
Illinois does not regulate the qualifications of the officiant. So as long as either party believes the officiant is qualified, the validity of the marriage generally will be upheld.
Changing Your Name
It's not necessary to change take your spouse's last name when getting married, but the practice remains quite common. If you choose to do so in Illinois, it's as easy as changing your name while filling out your marriage certificate.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Illinois Marriage Laws: Related Resources
Have Questions About Your Illinois Marriage? An Attorney Can Help
For most couples, marriage is a relatively simple procedure and doesn't require the professional help of an attorney. But everyone's situation is different and you may have specific needs best met by a legal professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your marriage, contact an Illinois family law attorney near you.