Texas Marriage Laws
Couples looking to plan their wedding in the Lone Star state will be forced to parse through some of the densest and most detailed marriage laws anywhere in the country. To make things easier, couples and ministers can simply follow the comprehensive guide we’ve compiled below. It may help ensure your Texas wedding is big on unforgettable memories and light on unwanted legal headaches.
Requirements for the Minister
- Min. Age of Minister:
- Age 18
- Not Required
- Document(s) Required:
- Varies by County
- Online Ordination Recognized:
- Relevant Office of Registration:
- County Clerk
- Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
- After Ceremony
- Minister I.D. # Issued:
Christian ministers, Jewish rabbis and anyone considered to be an officer of a religious organization is legally allowed to solemnize a marriage in the state of Texas, as are judges and justices of all recognized courts, whether retired or not. Please keep in mind that all ministers ordained by the Universal Life Church Ministries are viewed as legal “religious” actors in the U.S., including Texas.
That being said, ministers who conduct a marriage ceremony knowing full well they aren’t authorized to do so will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Any minister who marries an unauthorized minor is also guilty of a felony of the third degree. Thankfully, ministers ordained by the ULC are fully able to perform wedding ceremonies in the Lone Star State! We recommend Texas ministers order the Classic Wedding Package, which has proof of ordination, should the county clerk's office wish to see that.
Tex. Fam. Code 2.202. PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT CEREMONY.
(a) The following persons are authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony:
(1) a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest;
(2) a Jewish rabbi;
(3) a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony;
(4) a justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of criminal appeals, justice of the courts of appeals, judge of the district, county, and probate courts, judge of the county courts at law, judge of the courts of domestic relations, judge of the juvenile courts, retired justice or judge of those courts, justice of the peace, retired justice of the peace, judge of a municipal court, retired judge of a municipal court, associate judge of a statutory probate court, retired associate judge of a statutory probate court, associate judge of a county court at law, retired associate judge of a county court at law, or judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state; and
(5) a retired judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state.
(b) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(4), a retired judge or justice is a former judge or justice who is vested in the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan One or the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan Two or who has an aggregate of at least 12 years of service as judge or justice of any type listed in Subsection (a)(4).
(b-1) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(5), a retired judge or magistrate is a former judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state who is fully vested in the Federal Employees Retirement System under 28 U.S.C. Section 371 or 377.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), a person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony without authorization under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony of a minor whose marriage is prohibited by law or of a person who by marrying commits an offense under Section 25.01, Penal Code. An offense under this subsection is a felony of the third degree.
Wedding Ceremony Requirements
- Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
- Minister Required to be Present:
- Number of Witnesses Required:
- Min. Age of Witnesses:
- Couple's Consent Required:
- Pronouncement Required:
Texas is one of the few states in the country which allows a proxy to stand in for either party in a couple in the event one person cannot be present for the ceremony, provided the couple has attested to it in the affidavit section of the marriage license. This is designed primarily for active members of the US military in combat missions abroad.
Regardless, the couple (and proxy) must still provide some form of spoken consent to the marriage (a simple "I do" will suffice) which the officiating minister will follow by pronouncing the marriage official during the ceremony.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.203. CEREMONY.
(a) On receiving an unexpired marriage license, an authorized person may conduct the marriage ceremony as provided by this subchapter.
(b) A person may assent to marriage by the appearance of a proxy appointed in the affidavit authorized by Subchapter A if the person is:
(1) a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in another country in support of combat or another military operation; and
(2) unable to attend the ceremony.
Marriage License Requirements
- Who Picks Up License:
- The Couple
- Where License is Valid:
- Any County in Texas
- Marriage License Pick-Up:
- In Person Only
- Cost of License:
- Varies by County
- Accepted I.D. Types:
- Photo ID
- Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
- Blood Test Required:
The couple must pick up the marriage license in person. The state of Texas allows for a wide range of acceptable photo IDs to verify personal info, everything from driver’s licenses, passports and birth certificates to valid military dependent IDs, pilot’s licenses and yes, even a valid handgun license.
Although Texas does not require proof of divorce, it does mandate that divorced couples wait 30 days after the divorce is finalized before any new marriage license application is filed – unless that waiting period is waived by an authorized court.
The cost of a marriage license will range from $70 to $100 depending on the specific county in which it is issued. All licenses can be used across the entire state.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.005. PROOF OF IDENTITY AND AGE.
(a) The county clerk shall require proof of the identity and age of each applicant.
(b) The proof must be established by:
(1) a driver's license or identification card issued by this state, another state, or a Canadian province that is current or has expired not more than two years preceding the date the identification is submitted to the county clerk in connection with an application for a license;
(2) a United States passport;
(3) a current passport issued by a foreign country or a consular document issued by a state or national government;
(4) an unexpired Certificate of United States Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, United States Citizen Identification Card, Permanent Resident Card, Temporary Resident Card, Employment Authorization Card, or other document issued by the federal Department of Homeland Security or the United States Department of State including an identification photograph;
(5) an unexpired military identification card for active duty, reserve, or retired personnel with an identification photograph;
(6) an original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a bureau of vital statistics for a state or a foreign government;
(7) an original or certified copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certificate of Birth Abroad issued by the United States Department of State;
(8) an original or certified copy of a court order relating to the applicant's name change or sex change;
(9) school records from a secondary school or institution of higher education;
(10) an insurance policy continuously valid for the two years preceding the date of the application for a license;
(11) a motor vehicle certificate of title;
(12) military records, including documentation of release or discharge from active duty or a draft record;
(13) an unexpired military dependent identification card;
(14) an original or certified copy of the applicant's marriage license or divorce decree;
(15) a voter registration certificate;
(16) a pilot's license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration or another authorized agency of the United States;
(17) a license to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code;
(18) a temporary driving permit or a temporary identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety; or
(19) an offender identification card issued by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly provides false, fraudulent, or otherwise inaccurate proof of an applicant's identity or age under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.002. APPLICATION FOR LICENSE.
Except as provided by Section 2.006, each person applying for a license must:
(1) appear before the county clerk;
(2) submit the person's proof of identity and age as provided by Section 2.005(b);
(3) provide the information applicable to that person for which spaces are provided in the application for a marriage license;
(4) mark the appropriate boxes provided in the application; and
(5) take the oath printed on the application and sign the application before the county clerk.
Marriage License Facts
- ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
- Mandatory Waiting Period:
- 72 Hours
- License Valid For:
- 90 Days
- License Must Be Submitted:
- Within 30 Days of Ceremony
The great majority of couples looking to get married in Texas must be prepared to wait 72 hours between the time they receive the license and perform the ceremony.
Exceptions will be made for armed forces members on active duty, Department of Defense employees under contract and couples who have either completed a sanctioned premarital education course in the last year and have the certificate to prove it, or otherwise earned a legal exemption by a relevant judge. All marriage licenses granted in Texas are valid for a period of 90 days.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.201. EXPIRATION OF LICENSE.
If a marriage ceremony has not been conducted before the 90th day after the date the license is issued, the marriage license expires.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.204. 72-HOUR WAITING PERIOD; EXCEPTIONS.
(a) Except as provided by this section, a marriage ceremony may not take place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license.
(b) The 72-hour waiting period after issuance of a marriage license does not apply to an applicant who:
(1) is a member of the armed forces of the United States and on active duty;
(2) is not a member of the armed forces of the United States but performs work for the United States Department of Defense as a department employee or under a contract with the department;
(3) obtains a written waiver under Subsection (c); or
(4) completes a premarital education course described by Section 2.013, and who provides to the county clerk a premarital education course completion certificate indicating completion of the premarital education course not more than one year before the date the marriage license application is filed with the clerk.
(c) An applicant may request a judge of a court with jurisdiction in family law cases, a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a county judge, or a judge of a court of appeals for a written waiver permitting the marriage ceremony to take place during the 72-hour period immediately following the issuance of the marriage license. If the judge finds that there is good cause for the marriage to take place during the period, the judge shall sign the waiver. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a judge under this section has the authority to sign a waiver under this section.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.206. RETURN OF LICENSE; PENALTY.
(a) The person who conducts a marriage ceremony shall record on the license the date on which and the county in which the ceremony is performed and the person's name, subscribe the license, and return the license to the county clerk who issued it not later than the 30th day after the date the ceremony is conducted.
(b) A person who fails to comply with this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $500.
Requirements for the Couple
- Min. Age of Couple:
- Age 18
- Not Required
- Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
- Second Cousins
- Marriage Equality:
The minimum age to marry in the state of Texas is 18 years old. Minors will need special court approval to become exceptions to that rule. Couples hailing from any corner of the country (or the world for that matter) are more than welcome, as are same sex couples.
As far as applying for a marriage license is concerned, Texas lays out very specific requirements as to what information couples must provide the state clerk, including divulging whether either member of the couple is married or has been divorced in the last 30 days, is blood-related beyond second cousins or is delinquent in any court-ordered child-support payments – the last of which, on its own, isn’t enough to justify the refusal of a marriage license. Couples will have to swear an oath, in person, to the veracity of all the info provided, acknowledging that purposely providing false or misleading information will be considered a Class A misdemeanor in the state.
Before issuing the license, the clerk will need to take note of any proxy that will stand in for either member of the couple not present during the wedding ceremony, and must point the couple to relevant HIV/Aids and other premarital course material online.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.003. APPLICATION FOR LICENSE BY MINOR.
(a) A person under 18 years of age may not marry unless the person has been granted by this state or another state a court order removing the disabilities of minority of the person for general purposes.
(b) In addition to the other requirements provided by this chapter, a person under 18 years of age applying for a license must provide to the county clerk:
(1) a court order granted by this state under Chapter 31 removing the disabilities of minority of the person for general purposes; or
(2) if the person is a nonresident minor, a certified copy of an order removing the disabilities of minority of the person for general purposes filed with this state under Section 31.007.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.101. GENERAL AGE REQUIREMENT. A county clerk may not issue a marriage license if either applicant is under 18 years of age, unless each underage applicant shows that the applicant has been granted by this state or another state a court order removing the disabilities of minority of the applicant for general purposes.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.004. APPLICATION FORM. (a) The county clerk shall furnish the application form as prescribed by the bureau of vital statistics.
(b) The application form must contain:
(1) a heading entitled "Application for Marriage License, ____________ County, Texas";
(2) spaces for each applicant's full name, including the woman's maiden surname, address, social security number, if any, date of birth, and place of birth, including city, county, and state;
(3) a space for indicating the document tendered by each applicant as proof of identity and age;
(4) spaces for indicating whether each applicant has been divorced within the last 30 days;
(5) printed boxes for each applicant to check "true" or "false" in response to the following statement: "I am not presently married and the other applicant is not presently married.";
(6) printed boxes for each applicant to check "true" or "false" in response to the following statement: "The other applicant is not related to me as:
(A) an ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption;
(B) a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(C) a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(D) a son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
(E) a current or former stepchild or stepparent; or
(F) a son or daughter of a parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption.";
(7) printed boxes for each applicant to check "true" or "false" in response to the following statement: "I am not presently delinquent in the payment of court-ordered child support.";
(8) a printed oath reading: "I SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT THE INFORMATION I HAVE GIVEN IN THIS APPLICATION IS CORRECT.";
(9) spaces immediately below the printed oath for the applicants' signatures;
(10) a certificate of the county clerk that:
(A) each applicant made the oath and the date and place that it was made; or
(B) an applicant did not appear personally but the prerequisites for the license have been fulfilled as provided by this chapter;
(11) spaces for indicating the date of the marriage and the county in which the marriage is performed;
(12) a space for the address to which the applicants desire the completed license to be mailed; and
(13) a printed box for each applicant to check indicating that the applicant wishes to make a voluntary contribution of $5 to promote healthy early childhood by supporting the Texas Home Visiting Program administered by the Office of Early Childhood Coordination of the Health and Human Services Commission.
(c) An applicant commits an offense if the applicant knowingly provides false information under Subsection (b)(1), (2), (3), or (4). An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.
(d) An applicant commits an offense if the applicant knowingly provides false information under Subsection (b)(5) or (6). An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
Tex. Fam. Code § 2.009. ISSUANCE OF LICENSE.
(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (d), the county clerk may not issue a license if either applicant:
(1) fails to provide the information required by this subchapter;
(2) fails to submit proof of age and identity;
(3) is under 18 years of age and has not presented:
(A) a court order granted by this state under Chapter 31 removing the disabilities of minority of the applicant for general purposes; or
(B) if the applicant is a nonresident minor, a certified copy of an order removing the disabilities of minority of the applicant for general purposes filed with this state under Section 31.007;
(4) checks "false" in response to a statement in the application, except as provided by Subsection (b) or (d), or fails to make a required declaration in an affidavit required of an absent applicant; or
(5) indicates that the applicant has been divorced within the last 30 days, unless:
(A) the applicants were divorced from each other; or
(B) the prohibition against remarriage is waived as provided by Section 6.802.
(b) If an applicant checks "false" in response to the statement "I am not presently married and the other applicant is not presently married," the county clerk shall inquire as to whether the applicant is presently married to the other applicant. If the applicant states that the applicant is currently married to the other applicant, the county clerk shall record that statement on the license before the administration of the oath. The county clerk may not refuse to issue a license on the ground that the applicants are already married to each other.
(c) On the proper execution of the application, the clerk shall:
(1) prepare the license;
(2) enter on the license the names of the licensees, the date that the license is issued, and, if applicable, the name of the person appointed to act as proxy for an absent applicant, if any;
(3) record the time at which the license was issued;
(4) distribute to each applicant written notice of the online location of the information prepared under Section 2.010 regarding acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and note on the license that the distribution was made; and
(5) inform each applicant:
(A) that a premarital education handbook developed by the child support division of the office of the attorney general under Section 2.014 is available on the child support division's Internet website; or
(B) if the applicant does not have Internet access, how the applicant may obtain a paper copy of the handbook described by Paragraph (A).
(d) The county clerk may not refuse to issue a license to an applicant on the ground that the applicant checked "false" in response to the statement "I am not presently delinquent in the payment of court-ordered child support."
(e) A license issued by a county clerk under this section:
(1) must identify the county in which the license is issued; and
(2) may include the name of the county clerk.
- Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
- Church/Ordaining Body:
- Universal Life Church Ministries
- Address of Church:
- Minister's Home Address
Any minister asked or hired to officiate a wedding in Texas will be responsible for recording the date and county in which the ceremony takes place. Usually, the license will also ask that minister list their title, relevant church (Universal Life Church Ministries) and a home address.
Failure to do adequately and accurately fill out the marriage license will be deemed an offense resulting in a fine ranging between $200 and $500.