Access to Marriage Records

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Marriage records are an important vital record which can provide a wealth of information regarding the bride and groom as well as their families. A marriage record contains information about the bride and groom; including the date of marriage, place of marriage, the names of the mothers and fathers, and sometimes even the people who witnessed the marriage. With the exception of a few states, marriage records are generally considered as public information. Marriage records can usually be obtained from a county clerk, auditor, health agency, or probate court. Some agencies allow for online searching of their marriage records.

The Arkansas Department of Health, Vital Records Division has marriage records from January 1917 but does not have the actual marriage license. If you want a copy of the actual license you must contact the county clerk or circuit clerk office where the marriage was recorded. The Arkansas Department of Health issues a certified copy of the coupon of marriage in paper form which is accepted by all state and federal government offices. Marriage records are not available to the general public unless you can demonstrate a relationship or right to the record. If you are denied access to a marriage record by the Arkansas Department of Health, you can contact the county clerk where the marriage took place, as they may operate under different rules. In Pulaski County, you can search online for marriage records from 1985 to present by bride’s name, or by bride’s maiden name, or by groom’s name. The search results provide the date the license was issued, date of marriage, date recorded, ages of bride and groom, parent’s names, bride’s maiden name, bride’s and groom’s place of birth, marriage officiant, and witnesses.

Marriage records in California are maintained by the California Department of Public Health Vital Records. There are two types of certified copies available: authorized copy, and informational copy. If you want to obtain an authorized copy of a marriage certificate, you must sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to receive a regular certified copy. If you cannot obtain an authorized copy under California law, you can obtain an informational copy. An informational copy contains the same information as an authorized copy, but will have a legend across the face with the statement “Informational, not a valid document to establish identity.” Authorized and informational copies are both certified copies. There are both public and confidential marriage licenses issued in California. A certified copy of a confidential marriage certificate may only be obtained by the married parties on the certificate or by court order. Public marriage records are available at the state office, but since processing time can exceed 6 months, you should submit your request for a marriage record to the recorder’s office in the county where the marriage license was issued. Copies of confidential marriages are not available from the state office and are only available from the clerk’s office in the county where the confidential marriage license was issued. Only the two individuals named on the marriage certificate can obtain copies of confidential marriage records. Although there are currently no online databases of marriage records in California, there are several counties that allow you to apply for your marriage license online, such as Contra Costa County, Yolo County, Los Angeles County, Marin County, and San Francisco County.

The Michigan Department of Community Health maintains marriage records dating back from 1897 to the present. Marriage records are not restricted and can be ordered online or by mail. You may also obtain copies marriage records from the clerk in the county where the event occurred. Some counties in Michigan provide online searching of marriage records, such as Emmet County. Marriage records from 1857 to present can be searched for by bride or groom’s last name, or by the date of marriage. Online marriage records can also be found in Genesee County. You can search for marriage records from 1963 to present. The information provided includes bride’s name, groom’s name, date of marriage, status, and location of the record. Additionally, the Saginaw County Clerk provides online searching of marriage records from 1995 to present. Results include groom’s name, bride’s name, date of marriage and parent’s names. Copies can be obtained over the counter or by mail request.

You may want access to marriage records to aid in family history research or perhaps you are looking to replace a lost or damaged marriage license. A great resource for locating marriage records, agency contact information, as well as marriage license requirements, and marriage applications is through the Free Public Records Directory, Vital Statistic Records category page. Marriage records and information can be searched for by state, county or municipality.

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