Whether it was a long engagement or a spontaneous decision, you and your beloved have reached the point where you're getting married. It's an exciting time that may a lot of fun, but you also have to think about practical things that must be done before you walk down the aisle.
For a valid marriage, both parties must fulfill specific requirements for age, consent, and capacity. Every state has laws that detail what the couple must do prior to entrance into a legal marriage. If you choose to marry in Virginia, then you must be familiar with the marriage laws of the state.
Overview of Virginia Marriage Laws
It's a good idea to consult with an attorney to fully understand statutory language. However, it's also useful to refer to an unabridged version of the law to become acquainted with legal concepts prior to meeting with counsel. See the chart below for a brief overview of marriage laws in Virginia.
Virginia Code Title 20:
- Section 20-38.1(certain marriages prohibited)
- Section 20-40 (penalties for prohibited marriages)
- Section 20-43 (bigamous marriage void without decree)
- Section 20-45-1 (void/voidable marriages)
- Section 20-48 (minimum age for marriage)
Validity of marriage
All states, including Virginia, have marriage license requirements.
Because you must be at least 18 years old to marry without consent, there are state law requirements for a marriage involving a minor. Persons that are at least 16, but under 18 must obtain consent to marry unless they are emancipated minors.
These are marriages that are invalid from inception and specifically covers the following types of marriages:
- All marriages performed when either of the parties lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the marriage was solemnized, because of mental incapacity.
- All marriages performed on or after July 1, 2016 when either party or both parties were under the age of 18 and haven't been emancipated.
- A marriage that occurs prior to the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties (bigamy).
- Marriages between relatives (brothers and sisters, uncle and nice, aunt and nephew).
Belief of Parties Validates Certain Defects
A marriage that is performed under a license issued in Virginia by anyone professing to be authorized to perform marriages is not considered void if there is a lack of authority in the person or any defect in the license if all other aspects of the marriage are lawful and consummated with a full belief of the parties that they were lawfully married.
Types of Marriages
Same-Sex Marriage: Despite the same-sex prohibitions that are still on the books, same-sex marriages are legal in all states, including Virginia.
Common Law Marriage: Virginia doesn't recognize common law marriages.
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.
Related Resources for Virginia Marriage Laws:
Questions about Virginia Marriage Laws? Contact an Attorney
Most couples get married in Virginia without any major issues. However, if you have questions about complying with Virginia's marriage laws, then get reassurance from an experienced family law attorney who can answer your questions and help get your marriage on a strong legal footing.