Once you've decided that it's time to get married, there's any number of things you'll need to get done to prepare for the big day. On top of the non-romantic list are the specific legal requirements that must be met to make your marriage legally valid. Meeting these requirements might not be the most exciting of things you'll do when it comes to getting married, but getting Minnesota's marriage requirements right will ultimately save you a lot of headache, and heartache, down the road.
Child Marriage Banned in Minnesota
Minnesota became the second state (after Delaware) to ban child marriages. The legal marriage age was raised to 18 in May 2020. Previously, children as young as 16 were permitted to marry in the state with parental consent. The child marriage ban prohibits marriage by those under 18 in all circumstances. The new law also requires Minnesotans to provide proof of age when applying for a marriage license.
Summary of Minnesota Marriage Laws
You can get help understanding the law by consulting with an attorney, but a good start is to review a breakdown of the relevant laws -- in plain language. Read the chart below for a helpful explanation of the marriage laws in Minnesota.
Minnesota Statutes Domestic Relations Ch. 517-519A:
- Section 517.09, 517.18 (solemnization)
- Section 517.10 (certificate; witnesses)
- Section 517.14 (illegal civil marriage; false certificate; penalty)
- Section 517.15 (unauthorized person performing ceremony)
Valid Marriage Requirements
For a valid marriage in Minnesota:
- The couple must obtain a marriage license;
- The couple must participate in a civil marriage ceremony; and
- The ceremony must be performed by someone who's legally authorized to solemnize the marriage.
The solemnization of the civil ceremony doesn't have to be done in a specific way except that the couple must declare that each takes the other as their spouse in the presence of a person authorized to solemnize the ceremony and 2 witnesses.
Types of Marriages
Child marriage was banned in the state in 2020. No one under 18 can be legally married.
Although there are still laws on the books that prohibit it, same sex marriage is legal in all states, including Minnesota. In states like Minnesota where same-sex marriage was legalized by statute prior to the U.S. Supreme Court, the laws contain provisions that exempt religious officials from having to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to their religious beliefs.
Common Law Marriage
Minnesota doesn't allow common law marriages, but it recognizes valid common law marriages from other states.
It's a misdemeanor to commit the following:
- A person authorized by law who knowingly solemnizes a civil marriage contrary to Minnesota's marriage laws; or
- Knowing of any legal barrier to the proposed civil marriage; or
- Who willfully makes a false certificate of any civil marriage or pretended civil marriage; or
- A person who knowingly takes responsibility to solemnize a civil marriage without the lawful authority to do so.
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.
Minnesota Marriage Laws: Related Resources
Have Questions about Minnesota Marriage Laws? See an Attorney
If you're preparing to wed, you may have questions and concerns about complying with Minnesota's marriage laws. Speaking with an experienced lawyer can put you at ease so that you can concentrate on your wedding day and married life beyond. Make plans to see a Minnesota family law attorney near you to learn more.