If planning a wedding is not enough to keep you busy, you must add to your task list the pre-marital duty of getting a license, which is required before you can get married and your marriage is officially considered valid by the state of Texas. Luckily, the process is fairly easy and requires only a few documents. Once the marriage license is issued, you can use it anywhere in the United States.
Also, in the state of Texas, same-sex marriage is legally recognized.
You must be 18 years of age in order to obtain a marriage license without parental consent. You can be married at age 16 if you have parental consent.
Process for Getting the License
To get a license, you and your future spouse must go to one of the 10 local county's clerk's offices to request the marriage license. Most Houstonians reside in Harris County and can go to any one of the county clerk's office branches. You will be required to present valid personal identification. This can be in the form of a drivers license, DPS-issued ID card, valid passport, resident alien card, certified copy of or an original birth certificate. You should also have social security numbers on hand or memorized.
Both individuals planning on getting married should come together, but no other witnesses are needed. If the bride or groom cannot apply for the marriage license in person, they will need to fill out an "Absentee Application." These applications are available at clerk's office locations and should be filled out and notarized prior to applying for the license.
If married before, you must be divorced at least 30 days before applying for a marriage license. No blood test is required for getting a marriage license.
Marriage License Fees
The fee for applying for a marriage license is $72. The clerk's office might not accept credit cards or checks, so it is important to remember to bring $72 in cash just in case. Without proof of state residency on a valid form of identification from at least one applicant, the fee will be $172.
Time Limit on Marriage License
There is a waiting period of 72 hours before using a marriage license. The waiting period is waived for military personnel with proof of military ID. The marriage license is valid for use anywhere in the United States, but the marriage ceremony must be conducted within 90 days of the marriage license being issued.
Informal Marriage (Common Law)
An informal marriage, or common-law marriage, is legal in Texas. Both applicants must appear in person to file a Declaration of Informal Marriage. The couple must list the date on the declaration form from when they have considered themselves married. Both applicants will need to provide valid identification (state issued I.D., driver's license, passport, and so on). The fee is $37.
Approved Wedding Officiants
According to the Harris County Clerk's Office, any number of individuals can perform a marriage ceremony. Here is the full list:
- Licensed or ordained Christian ministers and priests
- Jewish rabbis
- Persons who are officers of religious organizations and who are duly authorized by the organization to conduct marriage ceremonies;
- Justices of the supreme court, judges of the court of criminal appeals, justices of the court of appeals, judges of the district, county, and probate courts, judges of the county court at law, courts of domestic relations and juvenile courts, retired justices and judges of such courts, justices of the peace, retired justices of the peace, judges of a municipal court, retired judge of a municipal court or judge or magistrate of the federal court of this state; and a retired judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state.