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Alabama Marriage Records

Alabama marriage records are legal files containing information on state marriage events. Generally, these files provide the following details:

  • The record subject’s full birth names
  • Date and location where the event occurred. 
  • Names of witnesses, which may include friends and family members. 
  • Name of the officiating minister. 
  • Previous marital status of the couple. 
  • State certificate number

Alabama marriage indexes are available in different formats, such as microfilm or documents. You can also access some records on rolls of 16-mm microfilm at the Alabama Center for Health Statistics. 

Note: Different custodian agencies at the state and county levels are responsible for collating marriage records. Moreover, these agencies have different ways of collating marriage data. For this reason, you may not find all of these data on some marriage records.

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Alabama?

All marriage records in Alabama are classified as public documents. This means interested public members can submit requests and obtain these records under these conditions:

  • They must provide valid identification. 
  • They must provide enough details about the recorded subjects.

You can find records of all marriage certificates and licenses issued in Alabama. The Clerk of the County Probate Court is responsible for maintaining these records at the state level. You can find records of marriage events before and after 1936 at the Probate Court. However, the Alabama Department of Public Health, via the Center for Health Statistics, is the state-level custodian of marriage certificates issued after 1936.

In addition, the state keeps marriage indexes for all marriage events from 1939 to 1969. You can access indexes as 16-mm microfilms. 

Note: As of 2019, the County Probate Court is not responsible for issuing marriage licenses. Instead, intending couples must fill out the marriage certification form and submit it to the Probate Court for recording.

What are Marriage Certificates in Alabama?

A marriage certificate is a legal document proving the marital status of the named parties. These documents are accessible to the general public via custodian agencies. To access these documents, you must send a request to these agencies. For example, the Clerk of the County Probate Court allows in-person requests for marriage certificates. On the other hand, you may request it via mail, online, or in person at the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Marriage Licenses in Alabama 

Marriage licenses are legal documents issued to couples that are legally eligible to marry. Prior to August 2019, the County Probate Court was responsible for issuing these licenses. However, Alabama Act 2019-340 requires couples to submit a marriage certification form to the Probate Court.

Per Alabama state laws, you can legally marry under these conditions:

  • You are 18 years old or older. 
  • You are 16 years old or older with a signed “Affidavit of Consent” from a parent or guardian. 
  • The couples are not related by adoption or blood (Alabama Section 13A-13-3)

Note: Courts will only accept and record a notarized form. You must also submit the form within 30 days of signing it.

Are Alabama Marriage Records Public?

Yes. Marriage records in Alabama are fully accessible to the public. Per the Alabama Public Records Request Policy, public members can request these records from custodian agencies. The Clerk of the County Probate Court documents all marriage certificates submitted to the court. In contrast, all Alabama marriage records are under the purview of the Alabama Department of Health.

To access these records, you must pay the required search fee and submit a valid identification card. You may also provide details about the record subjects for a conclusive search result.

How to Find Marriage Records in Alabama

Online or physical copies of marriage records are accessible at the Alabama Department of Public Health. The agency provides access to records of marriage events from 1936 to the present. To access these marriage records, record seekers may follow these general steps:

Step 1: List out the details to locate the marriage record. 

Increase your chance of getting the record by providing one or more of these data:

  • The couple's full name, preferably the maiden name. 
  • County where the event occurred. 
  • Date of the marriage event. 

Step 2: Choose your preferred method for retrieving the record. 

The Department of Public Health allows requesters to obtain marriage records online, via mail, or in person. 

How to Find Alabama Marriage Records via Mail 

  1. Download and fill out the request form in English or Spanish
  2. Attach a $15 check or money order payable to the State Board of Health. The fee covers a certified copy of the marriage record. You must add $6 to the initial amount to get an additional copy
  3. Include a copy of a government-issued identification card. 
  4. Next, mail the documents to this address:

Alabama Vital Records

P.O. Box 5625

Montgomery, Alabama, 36103-5625. 

You can also visit any county health department to obtain certified copies of marriage certificates in Alabama. You can find the location of these departments on the state's public health website.

As of 2023, Alabama has yet to have a state-owned online repository for marriage records. Nevertheless, you may be able to find online copies of marriage certificates on third-party search sites. 

You can also contact the County Probate Court to access marriage records. The County Court only keeps records of marriage events recorded in the county. Therefore, record seekers may request a copy via mail or in person. For mail-based requests, requests must contain details of the record subject in a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Note: The search fee for marriage records is non-refundable. 

How to Get a Marriage License in Alabama

A marriage license is a legal document that authorizes a marriage event. Note that a marriage license is quite different from a marriage certificate in terms of function and obtaining the document. 

As of August 2019, Alabama's County Probate Courts no longer issue marriage licenses. Instead, intending couples must obtain a marriage certification form before the marriage event. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting a marriage license in Alabama 

  1. The intending couples must visit the Alabama Center for Health Statistics website.
  2. Next, they must download the marriage certification form for adults or minors. 
  3. Fill out the form and append your signature. You must submit the document to the Probate Court within 30 days of signing it. 
  4. Minors (above 16 years old) must include a signed consent form from their parents or guardians. 
  5. Notarize the document using the services of a notary public. You may find a notary public in a public library, a bank, or some pharmacies. 
  6. Submit the notarized documents, along with a valid identification card and the recording fee. 

Note: The recording fee may differ for different counties in Alabama. For example, the Autauga County Probate Court charges $45 to record a marriage certificate. In comparison, you'll pay $84.50 to record a marriage certificate in Jefferson County. 

Who can obtain Marriage Records in Alabama?

Under Alabama state laws, any interested public member can request and obtain marriage records. Nevertheless, the requester must provide enough information when searching for the record. In most cases, the requester may provide one or more of these information:

  • Requester's name and signature. 
  • Requester's mailing address and phone number. 
  • Record subjects’ full birth names. 
  • The timeframe when the event took place.
  • The County Probate Court that issued the license (for marriages before 2019).

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Alabama?

Some third-party websites provide free access to marriage records in Alabama. Marriage records on the site may be grouped into:

  • Indexed records without images. 
  • Indexed records with images. 
  • Marriage records images without an index. 

To access marriage records on a third-party platform, you must provide the following:

  • The record subject's first and last name 
  • The place (county) where the event occurred. 
  • The year the event was recorded. 

Is Alabama a Common Law State for Marriage?

No. Per Alabama Code Section 30-1-20, common-law marriages after January 1, 2017 are not legal. Prior to this law, couples could enter into common-law marriages as long as they fulfilled these conditions:

  • Must be legally eligible to marry. 
  • Must have announced their relationship to their social and family circles. 
  • They may file a joint tax return. 
  • Share a common primary residence.
  • May share a joint bank account, household expenses, and chores. 

Under the old law, couples could obtain an affidavit of common law marriage. This notarized document served as legal proof of the relationship. It also enables common-law couples to get the same rights as those in a customary marriage.

Does Alabama recognize common law marriages formed in other states? 

Yes. Per the Full Faith and Credit Clause, Alabama approves common-law marriages established in states where such unions are legal. This means couples from common-law-approving states like Kansas can enjoy the same marital rights as those in Alabama. 

What other marriages are illegal in Alabama? 

As of 2023, same-sex marriages, incestuous marriages, and bigamy are also illegal in Alabama. On the other hand, state laws recognize marriages between cousins. It also allows minors over 16 years old to marry legally.

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