Texas Court Records
Texas Marriage Records
Texas marriage records are documents maintained by government bodies or religious authorities that provide a summary or official statement on a couple’s marriage. These records usually include information such as the spouses’ names, marriage dates, location/county of marriage, and spouses’ ages. Depending on the type of marriage record, persons may also get information like the name of the marriage officiator, date of license issuance, and marriage file number.
What Types of Marriage Records are available in Texas
In Texas, marriage records can come in the form of licenses or certificates, with both official or unofficial copies available to the public.
Marriage certificates generally refer to the official proof of marriage issued by a government or religious authority. However, the Texas Family Code does not use the term “marriage certificate.” Nevertheless, the certified copy of a recorded marriage license issued by the County Clerk serves as a marriage certificate in the state. Moreover, some countries may provide keepsake marriage certificates at a price.
A marriage license is a legal document that authorizes recipients to marry. In Texas, this document is issued to couples who meet the following requirements:
- Parties must be at least 18 years of age, excluding minors who can provide court order that removes the disabilities of minorities.
- The couple must appear together before the County Clerk in person or via video conference after providing absentee affidavits.
- Applicants must provide proof of age and identity.
- Divorced applicants must wait 30 days after the divorce gets finalized before a license application.
- Applicants must provide properly filled-out application forms along with supporting documents.
After the application is approved and executed, the clerk issues the license under the following conditions:
- The couple must wait 72 hours after license issuance before having the marriage ceremony, excluding persons with special waivers, members of the US armed forces on active duty, and those with state-recognized premarital counseling certificates.
- The couple must get married within 90 days of issuance
- The couple must pay applicable license fees unless fees are waived.
After the ceremony and return of the completed license by the officiator, the clerk records the license, and it is the certified copy of this recorded marriage license that serves as proof of marriage, which others refer to as a marriage certificate.
Note: Marriage certificate may also refer to official copies of the Declaration of Informal Marriage.
Are Texas Marriage Records Public?
Yes, Texas marriage records are public information. In line with the Texas Public Information Act, members of the public can view or obtain certified or uncertified copies of marriage records through the record custodian. However, certain information, like Social Security Numbers, are deemed confidential and redacted from copies provided to the public.
How to Find Marriage Records in Texas
Texas County Clerks maintain records of marriages licensed in their respective counties. Additionally, individuals can also access marriage records through the Texas Department of State Health Services - Vital Statistics Section (DSHS-VSS). Persons interested in finding marriage records may follow these steps:
Step 1. Consider the type of record required: The first step is to decide if a copy of the record or just visual confirmation would serve your purpose of accessing the record. If the goal is to verify that a marriage took place or a license was issued, you can check the online indexes of statewide marriages maintained by the DSHS Vital Statistics Section or public indexes that may be provided on some County Clerk's website. On the other hand, if a record copy is needed, interested persons should determine whether to get a verification letter from the DSHS-VSS or a certified or unofficial copy from the County Clerk. Note that marriage verification letters issued by the DSHS-VSS cannot be used for official purposes.
Step 2. Determine the availability of the record: Marriage record availability mainly depends on when the event happened and what county licensed the marriage. If unsure of where or when a marriage took place, you can search the statewide indexes by using the spouses’ names. Individuals can use the details found to request copies of records from the custodian.
If the marriage happened before 1966, information may not be available on the index, and you may have to direct requests to the appropriate County Clerk or consider other sources like churches, libraries, or third-party sites.
Step 3. Make a request: Persons who require copies of a marriage record should direct requests to the proper custodian, like the DSHS-VSS or the County Clerk. Making requests usually involves providing the spouses’ names and the marriage date in the request form and sending the completed form along with the required fees to the custodian via mail, in person, or online. To request DSHS marriage verification letters, submit a completed request form and $20 fees in person at local offices or via mail to:
Texas Vital Statistics,
Department of State Health Services,
P.O. Box 12040,
Austin, TX 78711-2040
To request records from the County Clerk, download request forms on the specific county website, fill the form with the required details, and send it along with other requirements to the County Clerk's Office. Requests with unspecified details like spouses’ names or marriage dates may require a record search, which attracts added charges. Upon fee payment, the custodian will process the request and send electronic or paper copies to the requested address.
How to Get a Marriage License in Texas
A marriage license in Texas is a document that authorizes persons to get married. This should not be confused with the certified copies of a completed marriage license, which serves as proof of marriage or “marriage certificates” in Texas. Persons interested in obtaining a marriage license in order to get married may do so using the following steps:
- Fill the marriage license application form with factual information, including social security number
- Appear together before the County Clerk or with an Absentee Affidavit for an absent applicant
- Submit an application form and provide valid proof of age and identity such as a driver’s license, United States passport or Visa, certified copies of a birth certificate, or Military ID.
- Minors should provide a court order that removes the disabilities of minorities.
- Pay license fees
Once the clerk executes the license, recipients must wait 72 hours (3 days) before holding the ceremony, which has to be performed by licensed/ordained religious leaders or authorized judges. The couple must get married within 90 days of issuance, after which parties must apply for another license.
Who can obtain Marriage Records in Texas?
Anyone can obtain marriage records in Texas. As per the Texas Public Information Act, individuals can access or purchase these records, whether in the form of verification letters, electronic copies, or plain or certified copies, following proper requests to the record custodian. However, only persons mentioned in records and others with the right to access may obtain certified copies of marriage records that contain confidential information. Otherwise, the confidential details are redacted from copies given to the public.
Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Texas
Yes, interested persons can search and view online marriage records for free in Texas. The Texas Department of State Health Services - Vital Statistics Section (DSHS-VSS) maintains public indexes of marriages in Texas from 1966 to date, although the most recent indexes (2020-2023) may still be unavailable online. Individuals may access this database, or those provided by some County Clerk Offices, to look at online marriage records for free.
However, if finding Texas marriage records - like older marriage records - proves difficult, researchers should consider using third-party platforms like TexasCourtRecords.us as an additional tool. The extensive database and advanced search features on these sites may help streamline the search process and conveniently get results.
Is Texas a Common Law State for Marriage?
Yes, Texas recognizes common law marriages in the state. Referred to as informal marriage under the Texas Family Code, common law marriages are legal unions between couples who do not receive a marriage license or hold any ceremony. To be in a common law marriage in Texas, persons 18 years or older need only agree to be married, after which they live together and present themselves to others as a married couple.
While not necessary, couples in a common law marriage may obtain a “declaration of informal marriage” from the County Clerk's Office provided they meet the same requirements as persons applying for a marriage license. Additionally, Texas recognizes common law marriages formed in other states as long as the marriage is recognized in the state where it was formed.
However, domestic partnerships are not the same as common law marriages in Texas and are not recognized as a legal union statewide. Only a couple of cities and counties employers in Texas (e.g., Houston, Austin, Dallas) recognize domestic partnerships and let partners claim marriage benefits.