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Ohio Marriage Laws

Ohio may not be the first state that comes to mind when most newly-engaged couples plan their wedding and honeymoon, but the Buckeye State is actually a prime wedding destination. Situated on Lake Erie, Ohio is home to some of the most breath-taking destinations in the region, as well as some of the most exhilarating honeymoon locations. The Hocking Hills are the premier spot for engaged and newlywed couples, who can get married in front of a gorgeous Georgian manor and then spend their honeymoon nestled up in a warm mountain cabin. Ohio also caters to the adventurous with Cedar Point, the largest roller coaster park in the nation. Lake Erie offers a variety of water sports and beach-side resorts, making it nearly impossible to not have a good time. Of course, Ohio has a unique set of laws governing marriage, and each of the state’s 88 counties has its own set of rules. Prospective couples should review them thoroughly before setting off for the nearest county probate court.

Valid US ID

Ohio requires a valid government-issued ID from both parties, including a drivers’ license, passport or military ID. The marriage license application will also require your social security number, so be sure to bring your social security card or memorize the number. Anyone under 21 must bring a birth certificate.


You don’t have to be a past or current resident of Ohio to marry within the state. However, you must obtain your license from the county in which you will be married.

Waiting Period

Ohio does not have a waiting period once a marriage license application is accepted.

Length Marriage License is Valid

A marriage license in Ohio is valid for sixty days. If you do not hold a ceremony within that time frame, or wish to marry in a different county, you will need to fill out a new application from scratch.

Medical and Other Tests

Ohio does not require any medical tests or other examinations prior to marriage. However, a license will not be issued to anyone who appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and a marriage can later be declared null and void if a similar situation arises during the ceremony. Ohio also prohibits the marriage of anyone with communicable syphilis.

Age Requirements

Anyone under 21 years of age must bring a birth certificate with them. Adults over the age of 18 are free to marry, but 16 or 17 year-old girls will need consent from either a parent or legal guardian. The law stipulates that men must be 18 to marry, and male minors will need to seek judicial approval, as well as in certain outstanding cases such as a pregnant minor. Underage applicants may also need to attend premarital counseling before being issued a license.

Marriages by Proxy

Proxy marriages, where one member of the couple is absent and a substitute takes his or her place, are not allowed in Ohio.

Previously Married

If you have been married before, Ohio requires that applicants bring proof of the end of their prior marriage, either through a death certificate or divorce papers.

Fees and Taxes

The fees for a marriage license vary by county, but generally the county probate court will charge $50. Be sure to bring cash, as only a few counties in Ohio accept money orders, and none accept checks or credit cards. Since these fees are not constant throughout Ohio’s 88 counties, it is best to call the probate court ahead of time to find out how much you need to bring.

Marrying a Cousin

Ohio does not permit the marriage of relatives closer than second cousins. This means that first cousin marriages are banned, and the marriage can be annulled if such a union is discovered.

Common Law

A common law marriage, where a couple can be declared married without a ceremony, is only valid in Ohio if declared before October 10, 1991. Otherwise they are not recognized.

Same Sex Marriages

In November 2004, Ohio citizens amended the state constitution to declare that marriage is between one man and one woman. As such, Ohio will not issue a marriage license to a same sex couple and will not recognize same sex couples as married.

Wedding Officiants

Ohio allows ordained clergy members to officiate at wedding ceremonies, so long as the county probate court has their credentials. The clergy can be of any denomination, and couples looking for a secular wedding can also use a justice of the peace.

Obtaining a Copy of Marriage Certificate

The officiant at the wedding will be able to complete the license upon marriage and send it to the county probate court. Couples can then expect to receive their certificate in the mail.

Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling may be required for underage couples, but is otherwise not mandatory in Ohio.

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