Alabama Marriage Certificate
You will need to add “Book Notary Public your wedding day” to the to-do list and possibly include this small expense when budgeting.
On August 29, 2019, the process for entering into a legal marriage in Alabama changed. Under the new law, couples wishing to become married are no longer required to file an application for a marriage license with the county probate court. Replacing a “marriage license”, the Alabama Marriage Certificate form represents a contractual agreement between the parties to the marriage, completed by both parties and delivered to the probate court for recording. Once properly completed and recorded, the marriage is valid.
Basically, you will sign a marriage certificate, have it notarized the day of your wedding, and submit it to probate court within 30 days. All Alabama probate courts are required to record marriage certificates.
These are the steps a couple must complete to be considered married under Alabama law:
1.) Fill out the Alabama Marriage Certificate form provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
2.) Sign the form and have the signatures notarized.
3.) Submit the form to probate court within 30 days of the signatures of the parties.
You can access the Alabama Marriage Certificate form online at the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website here. Mobile County Probate Court also has a link to the form on its website. These links will also provide instructions for completing and filing the new forms. (These links are also where I found the information that I am sharing with you now.) In addition, Mobile County Probate Court has blank forms for pick up at the Judicial Intake window, located on the first floor of the Mobile County Government Annex (151 Government St., Mobile AL 36602).
Will it recognize my wedding date as the official day I got married?
As long as the Marriage Certificate form is submitted to probate court within 30 days of the signatures of the parties, the effective date of the marriage is the date that both parties sign the Marriage Certificate form. It is my understanding that you need to have a notary witness and stamp your certificate on your wedding day for the state to recognize that as the official date.
Since the new law passed, pictures signing the marriage certificate has become a cute photo-op. It doesn't take more than a few minutes.
You are responsible for booking your own notary.
The staff at Mobile County Probate Court is not permitted to notarize documents for the public. Notaries are available at many locations, including banks, public libraries, UPS stores, etc. Many banks provide notary services for free, however that won’t help much on your wedding day, but your bank is a starting point to find a notary who could attend your wedding or suggest someone who would be available. Under Alabama law, a Notary Public is able to charge $5 for each signature that is notarized, and for each official act performed.
What else is different about the new law?
Couples are no longer required to go to the probate court prior to the wedding day.
From instructions provided on Mobile County’s website “Unlike the previous law’s requirement that a couple apply for a license PRIOR to getting married, the new Act requires that the Alabama Marriage Certificate form be filed with probate court AFTER the couple is married.”
Don’t get so caught up in wedded bliss that you forget to submit within the 30-day window!
If you don’t submit it to be recorded, the marriage would be considered invalid, and the spouses would need to start the process over.
Good news is the state makes it easy to submit.
Only one of you needs to submit it. Both spouses DO NOT need to come to probate court to record the Marriage Certificate, AND an Alabama Marriage Certificate form in any Alabama county probate court. In other words, it doesn’t matter where you live or where you had your ceremony.
What is the same?
There is still a fee. (*Of course* THAT would stay the same.)
The fee to record the Marriage Certificate form is $70.00 in Mobile County.
At first I saw the fee and thought it was a bit on the expensive side, but know that your money is going to good use. Only $10 goes to the cost of actually recording the marriage certificate. The other $60 goes to the state’s Domestic Violence Trust Fund. A fund set up to support certified domestic violence centers across the state. We can be glad most of that money will go towards doing good in our community.