Marriage

How to obtain a marriage license and getting married by magistrate.

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What are the requirements to get married in North Carolina?

Both parties must intend to marry, must not be currently married to anyone else, and must be able to understand their actions. Both parties must be at least 18 years old, unless specific requirements for minors are met. The parties cannot be more closely related than first cousins, and cannot be double first cousins (for instance, the children of two sisters who married two brothers). The couple must get a marriage license before their wedding.

What are the requirements for someone under 18 to marry?

Minors ages 16 and 17 must file with the Register of Deeds a written consent to the marriage signed by a parent with sole or joint legal custody, or by a person, agency, or institution that has legal custody of the minor or is serving as the minor’s legal guardian.

Minors ages 14 and 15 must file a court action if they wish to marry. This option is available only in cases of pregnancy or teenage parenthood. A guardian ad litem must be appointed to give an opinion on whether the marriage is in the best interest of the 14- or 15-year-old, and the court must also consider the opinions of his or her parents. The judge must decide if the minor is ready for the responsibilities of marriage. You can find a copy of the complaint form needed to file the case here.

Children under the age of 14 may not marry.

What are the requirements for a marriage ceremony?

Couples who want to marry must obtain a marriage license before the ceremony. The marriage ceremony must be conducted by a recognized officiant. Both parties must solemnly declare their intent to marry. Following the ceremony, at least two witnesses are required to sign the marriage license.

Is a medical exam or pre-marital counseling required before marriage?

No.

What are the legal consequences of marriage?

Marriage creates many legal rights and obligations, including in the areas of property, financial obligations, inheritance, taxes, and more. You should contact an attorney or tax professional with any questions.

Marriage Licenses

How do I get a marriage license?

Couples getting married in North Carolina must get a marriage license before the wedding. If your wedding will be in North Carolina, you can get a marriage license from the Register of Deeds in any county in the state. In general, both partners must visit the Register of Deeds office, though some counties allow online applications to be submitted before visiting the office to save time. Applicants for a marriage license must pay a fee and fill out a form stating their names, ages, marital status, and intention to marry.

Applicants must provide either a Social Security number or a notarized statement that the applicant is ineligible to receive a Social Security number. The Register of Deeds may require proof of age, such as a government-issued ID or birth certificate. The Register of Deeds may also require proof of divorce if either partner was previously married. Because requirements can vary, you should contact the Register of Deeds in your county with any specific questions.

How long before the wedding do I need to apply for a marriage license?

The marriage license must be issued before the wedding. North Carolina has no required waiting period between the issuance of the marriage license and the wedding. A marriage license expires after 60 days if the wedding has not taken place, and applicants must apply again if the wedding does not occur within 60 days.

Officiants

Who can officiate a wedding in North Carolina?

A wedding can be performed by a magistrate or by any minister who is ordained in a religious denomination or authorized by a church. Marriages can also be performed in the recognized manner of any religious denomination that does not use officiants, or in the recognized manner of any federally or state-recognized Native American tribe.

North Carolina does not recognize marriages performed by people ordained in the Universal Life Church, unless the marriage was performed before July 3, 1981.

How can I arrange to have a magistrate perform my wedding?

You should contact the magistrate’s office in your county, because availability varies by county.

Can a judge perform my wedding?

No. Judges cannot perform marriages in North Carolina.

Prenuptual Agreements

Are prenuptual agreements (“prenups”) legal in North Carolina?

Yes. Prenuptual agreements are legal and enforceable as long as all legal requirements are met. Prenuptual agreements can be used to determine property and inheritance rights and to change or eliminate the right to spousal support if the marriage ends.

What are the requirements for a prenuptual agreement?

To be valid, the prenuptual agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties before the marriage. A prenuptual agreement cannot limit the child support than a child would otherwise receive.