Getting married? The process has changed in Alabama

By Allison Marlow
Posted 8/29/19

Bells don’t have to ring. The sun doesn’t have to shine, and you don’t even need to go to the chapel to get married in Alabama any more.

As of Wednesday, the state requires new forms and a …

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Getting married? The process has changed in Alabama

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Bells don’t have to ring. The sun doesn’t have to shine, and you don’t even need to go to the chapel to get married in Alabama any more.

As of Wednesday, the state requires new forms and a new process for getting hitched.

Couples are no longer required to hold a ceremony or visit the probate office together for a 30-minute inquisition.

Instead, becoming blissfully wed is as simple as downloading a form and signing it. And, you don’t even have to sign it at the same time or be in the same room when your everlasting love is officially recorded.

Couples must have the form notarized before bringing it to the probate office. The date it is recorded is the official date of the marriage. The form must be delivered to the probate office within 30 days of the couples’ signatures to be valid.

“The whole intent of the law is to get the probate office out of the marriage business,” said Dean Mott, chief clerk of the Baldwin County Probate office. “Now we’re strictly the conduit to just get the forms recorded.”

The cost to record a marriage is $73 and includes one certified copy for the couple.

Now that probate officials simply record the marriage, the process may be faster. Though couples may want to be more attentive. The impetus is on them to insure sure all the information on the form is correct.

“It’s still a legal document,” Mott said. “There cannot be any white out or strike through lines. If you make a mistake you have to redo the form.”

Once a mistake is recorded, couples will have to pay a fee and deal with the Alabama Department of Public Health to make the correction.

The form does not have to be filed in the county in which the couple resides.

Couples who sign the form and, have a ceremony and then decide to part ways before delivering the form to the probate office are off the hook.

“If it does not get recorded, it didn’t happen,” Mott said.

The elimination of marriage licenses will not affect any other aspects of marriage in Alabama, including divorce, spousal support, child support and child custody.

The Alabama Legislaure voted earlier this year to end the issuance of marriage licenses to accommodate conservative probate judges who objected to same-sex marriage. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing for same sex marriages means states must issue marriage licenses or record the marriage of same sex couples as legally binding documents.

Mott said Baldwin County complies with the federal ruling.

“Everybody that wants to get married can, now it’s just a much simpler process,” he said.