Requirements for the Couple
Although the state of Iowa clearly sets the legal age of marriage at 18 years old, it will consider any marriage solemnized between any two persons falsely claiming to be adults valid, unless the underage person specifically chooses to come clean and annul the union. Otherwise, 16 and 17-year-olds can technically be issued a marriage license provided they procure the written consent of either one or both of their parents or legal guardians and then convince a district court judge they’re fit to assume the responsibilities of marriage. While pregnancy alone might not be a good enough reason, the judge can also make his own ruling in the case where parents are determined to be unreasonably withholding consent.
Iowan law clearly stipulates that only marriages between one male and one female will be valid. However, recent changes in federal marriage equality laws since upheld by the Supreme Court means same sex couples are free to marry in the state.
No marriage between relatives closer than second cousins will be tolerated.
I.C.A. § 595.2 1. Only a marriage between a male and a female is valid.
Additionally, a marriage between a male and a female is valid only if each is eighteen years of age or older. However, if either or both of the parties have not attained that age, the marriage may be valid under the circumstances prescribed in this section.
If either party to a marriage falsely represents the party's self to be eighteen years of age or older at or before the time the marriage is solemnized, the marriage is valid unless the person who falsely represented their age chooses to void the marriage by making their true age known and verified by a birth certificate or other legal evidence of age in an annulment proceeding initiated at any time before the person reaches their eighteenth birthday. A child born of a marriage voided under this subsection is legitimate.
A marriage license may be issued to a male and a female either or both of whom are sixteen or seventeen years of age if both of the following apply:
a. The parents of the underage party or parties certify in writing that they consent to the marriage. If one of the parents of any underage party to a proposed marriage is dead or incompetent the certificate may be executed by the other parent, if both parents are dead or incompetent the guardian of the underage party may execute the certificate, and if the parents are divorced the parent having legal custody may execute the certificate; and
b. The certificate of consent of the parents, parent, or guardian is approved by a judge of the district court or, if both parents of any underage party to a proposed marriage are dead, incompetent, or cannot be located and the party has no guardian, the proposed marriage is approved by a judge of the district court. A judge shall grant approval under this subsection only if the judge finds the underage party or parties capable of assuming the responsibilities of marriage and that the marriage will serve the best interest of the underage party or parties. Pregnancy alone does not establish that the proposed marriage is in the best interest of the underage party or parties, however, if pregnancy is involved the court records which pertain to the fact that the female is pregnant shall be sealed and available only to the parties to the marriage or proposed marriage or to any interested party securing an order of the court.
- If a parent or guardian withholds consent, the judge upon application of a party to a proposed marriage shall determine if the consent has been unreasonably withheld. If the judge so finds, the judge shall proceed to review the application under subsection 4, paragraph “b”.
Marriage License Requirements
- Who Picks Up License:
- The Couple
- Where License is Valid:
- County of Issuance
- Marriage License Pick-Up:
- In Person Only
- Cost of License:
- Accepted I.D. Types:
- Photo ID
- Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
- Blood Test Required:
The first step in securing a marriage license involves prospective couples visiting the county registrar in person and filing a verified application. That application must include both their social security numbers, as well as an affidavit signed by one competent witness attesting to both their stated ages.
Simply providing the date of all previous divorces is sufficient, unless those occurred within the past 60 days, in which case a copy of the decree must also be provided with the application. There is a $35 fee for applying.
I.C.A. § 595.4 1. Previous to the issuance of any license to marry, the parties desiring the license shall sign and file a verified application with the county registrar which application either may be mailed to the parties at their request or may be signed by them at the office of the county registrar in the county in which the license is to be issued. The application shall include the social security number of each applicant and shall set forth at least one affidavit of some competent and disinterested person stating the facts as to age and qualification of the parties. Upon the filing of the application for a license to marry, the county registrar shall file the application in a record kept for that purpose and shall take all necessary steps to ensure the confidentiality of the social security number of each applicant. All information included on an application may be provided as mutually agreed upon by the division of records and statistics and the child support recovery unit, including by automated exchange.
Marriage License Facts
- ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
- Mandatory Waiting Period:
- Varies by County
- License Valid For:
- Does Not Expire
- License Must Be Submitted:
- Within 15 Days of Ceremony
If all the information provided in the application checks out, the county registrar will issue a marriage license that will only be valid after a three-day waiting period. In Jasper County, the waiting period is 5 days. Licenses issued in the state of Iowa are valid only in the county of issuance. They technically do not expire, but must be returned to the same issuing clerk within 15 days of the ceremony.
I.C.A. § 595.4.2. Upon receipt of a verified application, the county registrar may issue the license which shall not become valid until the expiration of three days after the date of issuance of the license. If the license has not been issued within six months from the date of the application, the application is void.
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 the Ceremony
- Minister I.D. # Issued:
The state of Iowa recognizes all marriages solemnized by either judges or magistrates, as well as any person ordained or otherwise designated as a leader of a religious faith, provided they are at least 18 years old.
This extends to ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church, religious actors authorized to perform weddings without prejudice to their place of residence, stated gender or personal beliefs. Despite this, ULC ministers may be asked to present their ordination credentials or a letter of good standing after the ceremony, depending on the specific county in Iowa where the ceremony takes place.
I.C.A. § 595.10 Marriages may be solemnized by:
A judge of the supreme court, court of appeals, or district court, including a district associate judge, associate juvenile judge, or a judicial magistrate, and including a senior judge as defined in section 602.9202, subsection 3.
A person ordained or designated as a leader of the person's religious faith.
Wedding Ceremony Requirements
- Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
- Minister Required to be Present:
The state of Iowa is generally not in the business of dictating the specifics of any formal marriage ceremony performed on its soil, leaving it to couples and ministers to do so according to their own particular customs and desires. However, the state does require that each member of the couple consent to take the other as their spouse in the presence of both an authorized officiant and at least one adult witness for the marriage to be properly solemnized. Exceptions will be made for couples belonging to certain denominations whose own marriage customs do not conform to this formula.
The provisions of this chapter, as they relate to procuring licenses and to the solemnizing of marriages are not applicable to members of a denomination having an unusual mode of entering the marriage relation.
- Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
- Church/Ordaining Body:
- Universal Life Church Ministries
- Address of Church:
- Minister's Home Address
It is up to the minister or magistrate to attest to the marriage on the space provided in the certificate, stating the date and place of the ceremony and the names of both the couple and witness. They must also make sure to include their own name, title, ordaining body (Universal Life Church Ministries) and provide their own home address, if asked. Once that’s done, the marriage certificate must be returned to the same county registrar who issued the original license within 15 days of the ceremony.
After the marriage has been solemnized, the officiating minister or magistrate shall attest to the marriage on the blank provided for that purpose and return the certificate of marriage within fifteen days to the county registrar who issued the marriage license.