You can almost taste the wedding cake and can't wait to start your new life with the love of your life, but you still have a few items to check off your list. Marriage is a legal contract between two parties; and while this isn't exactly the most romantic notion, it's important to make sure that you are in fact eligible to marry and have a valid marriage license before getting married in North Carolina. This article summarizes North Carolina's main marriage laws.
North Carolina Marriage Laws: The Basics
Fully understanding the implications of a statute typically requires a law degree, or at least the ability to navigate dense legal texts. We know you probably don't have the time or energy to sort through the legalese, so we've provided the important details about North Carolina's marriage laws -- in plain English -- below.
North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 51
In order to get a marriage license in North Carolina 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
- Parties under 16, but at least 14, may marry with a court order.
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);
- Typed proof of Social Security number, showing full name (i.e. Social Security card, W2 form, tax return, bank statement, or pay stub);
- 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).
Note: License is valid for 60 days; must pay $60 filing fee.
Validity of Marriage
Certain marriages are prohibited in North Carolina , including:
- One or more parties is underage (or lacks necessary authorization from parents or court);
- One or more parties has a previously undissolved marriage (bigamy); and
- Parties are double first cousins or nearer in kin than first cousins.
As in other states, those wishing to marry in North Carolina must meet minimum age requirements:
- 18, without parental consent;
- 16 - 17, with parental consent (unless parties under 18 are emancipated); or
- 14 - 16, with court order (typically only under extraordinary circumstances).
Ceremony and Solemnification of Marriage
Marriages in North Carolina are solemnified in one of two general ways:
- By an ordained minister of any religious denomination, a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate (i.e. judge or civil officer); or
- In accordance with any marriage ceremony recognized by any religious denomination, or federally or state-recognized Indian Nation or Tribe .
Changing Your Name
While it's completely up to the parties whether they want to change their name upon (or after) marriage, it's still quite common. Generally, you may change your name when applying for a marriage license (or when filing for divorce) in North Carolina.
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
North Carolina Marriage Laws: Related Resources
Get Expert Legal Advice About Your North Carolina Marriage
If you're getting married, you're probably spending more time deciding flower arrangements and your honeymoon. But there are important legal considerations involved. If you have questions about any legal matters concerning your marriage, contact a North Carolina family law attorney today.