Congratulations on your engagement to be married! Every marriage in Virginia must be licensed and solemnized according to state law. The following information is intended to summarize these laws, but should not be construed as legal advice.
WHO MAY MARRY IN VIRGINIA?
1. Age Requirements and Consent
The minimum age for marriage in the Commonwealth of Virginia is 16 years for both bride and groom. If either party is under 18 years old, consent to the marriage must be given in person by the father, mother or legal guardian of the minor. The law permits marriage by a person under 16 if the bride is pregnant when seeking a marriage license or has been pregnant within the nine months preceding examination by a physician, and the parent or guardian of the under age party gives consent.
2. Prohibited Marriages
The following categories of marriages are illegal in Virginia:
- A marriage entered into prior to the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties
- A marriage between an ancestor and descendant; or between a brother and a sister; or between an uncle and a niece; or between an aunt and a nephew; whether the relationship is by the half or whole blood or by adoption
- When either party lacks the mental or physical capacity to consent to the marriage
- "Common law" marriages are not valid if entered into in Virginia or any other jurisdiction which does not permit them for its residents
HOW DO I OBTAIN A MARRIAGE LICENSE?
1. Where to Obtain License
A marriage license may be obtained from the Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court in any city or county in Virginia. A license may be obtained in Accomack County even if one or both parties do not reside in the county, except that a pregnant bride under 16 years of age must apply for a marriage license in the locality in which she resides. Once granted, a marriage license permits a marriage ceremony anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Both parties must appear in person to receive the license. The Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays. Please arrive no later than 4:00 p.m. to ensure that there is enough time to properly process your application. Each party must furnish the required information under oath or affirmation, and falsifying any information on a marriage license could subject the parties to prosecution for perjury. Your driver's license or a valid photo ID is required.
2. Time Limitations
There is no waiting period in Virginia between being granted a divorce and remarrying or between applying for and being issued a marriage license. Once a marriage license has been issued, however, the marriage must be performed within 60 days or the license becomes void. After the marriage ceremony is performed, the officiant (person authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage) must return the marriage license to the Clerk of Circuit Court's office within five days.
The Clerk of Circuit Court will charge a fee of $30 for issuing a marriage license. Twenty dollars of this fee is a state tax on marriage licenses and $10 is the statutory clerk's fee for issuing and recording the license. A certified copy of your marriage license is $3.
HOW IS THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY PERFORMED?
1. Who May Perform
No person may celebrate the rites of marriage in Virginia who is not authorized to do so by a circuit court. The following categorizes of officiants may be authorized in the following manner:
- A minister of any religious denomination must produce proof of his or her ordination and regular communion with the religious society of which he or she is a reputed member.
- Marriages between persons belonging to any religious society which has no ordained minister may be solemnized by the persons and in the manner prescribed and practiced in the society.
- Each circuit court appoints persons who are eligible to perform civil marriage ceremonies. The Circuit Court of Accomack County has appointed Barbara B. Reiger, (757) 787-7480 and L. R. “Spider” Fleming, Jr., (757) 990-4242 to serve as Marriage Commissioner. Samuel H. Cooper, Jr., Clerk of Circuit Court, is also authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.
2. Structure of Ceremony
There is no statutorily prescribed structure or wording that must be used during a marriage ceremony. Couples are free to write their own vows and plan their own ceremonies in accordance with their own beliefs and customs.
There is no statutory requirement that witnesses be present at the marriage ceremony.
4. Marriage Record
Within five days after the marriage ceremony, the officiant must complete and sign the Marriage license and forward both forms to the circuit court clerk's office that issued the license. The license is then forwarded to the Virginia Division of Vital Records. In addition to these two forms, the officiant is welcome to prepare any other type of certificate to be given to the newly married couple.
HOW DO I CHANGE MY NAME WHEN I GET MARRIED?
If you wish to change your last name upon marriage (whether you are the bride or groom), begin using the new name immediately after the marriage ceremony.
- Social Security - Complete Social Security Administration Form SS-5 and either mail it or take it to your nearest Social Security office. Include a certified copy of your marriage license (see below). There is no fee for filing Form SS-5. You should receive your new social security card within four weeks, and your social security number will not change. (For more information about changing your social security records, click here.)
- Driver's License - Bring your driver's license, social security card and a certified copy of your marriage record (see below) to the Department of Motor Vehicles. There is a $5 fee for a new driver's license card. (For more information about correcting your DMV records, click here.)
- Voter Registration - Notify the Registrar's Office of your name change.
- Personal Property - Notify the Commissioner of the Revenue's Office of your name change within 30 days.
- Address Changes - If you will also be changing your address, don't forget to notify the Registrar's Office, the Commissioner of the Revenue's Office, the U. S. Postal Service with the USPS Change of Address Form and the Internal Revenue Service with IRS Form 8822.
- Other - Don't forget to notify other agencies, businesses and associates that your name has changed.
HOW DO I OBTAIN INFORMATION ABOUT OR A CERTIFIED COPY OF A MARRIAGE RECORD?
Certified copies of marriage records may be obtained in person or by mail from the circuit court clerk's office that issued the marriage license for a fee of $3.00 or from the Virginia Division of Vital Records in Richmond for a fee of $12.00. The full names of the bride and groom and the date and place of marriage must be provided.