If you want to get married in Indiana, you must first get an Indiana marriage license from a circuit court. The court official who's in charge of issuing licenses is the clerk of the circuit court. Some clerks may authorize their deputies or assistants to also issue licenses.
You and your future spouse must appear together when applying. Surrogate and proxy applicants will not be acknowledged.
The remainder of this article will thoroughly guide you through all the marriage license steps as well as what to expect afterward, from the application, to the ceremony, to the registration of your certificate.
Under the influence
If you show up to apply intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or appear to be out of your mind, you will not be issued a marriage license.
One or both are residents
If either you or your prospective spouse lives in Indiana, you must obtain your marriage license from a circuit court in either's county of residence. Afterward, you can marry anywhere in the state.
Neither are state residents
If neither you nor your prospective spouse lives in Indiana, you can obtain your marriage license from any county's circuit court, but your marriage must take place in that county.
Although the following resident and nonresident price ranges are exact, you can look up precise fees by consulting the list of counties, with circuit court locations therein.
Fee for state residents
If at least one of you lives in Indiana, you'll only have to pay $18 or $20 for your marriage license. The $2 range discrepancy is due to a "document fee" that some circuit courts charge.
Fee for out-of-state residents
If neither of you live in Indiana, you'll either pay $60 or $62 for your marriage license. The minor $2 difference is the result of a "document fee" that's added by some circuit courts.
Certified copy fee
It will cost you $2 for every certified copy of your marriage license. You can place an order the same time you apply for a license.
The certified copy, or copies, will be mailed to you after your license has been recorded by the clerk of the circuit court following your marriage ceremony.
You don't have to place your order the same day you apply for a license; certified copies can be purchased after your license and certificate have been returned to the clerk for recording by your officiant following your marriage ceremony.
Be prepared to document the following on your marriage license application:
You'll be asked to provide information to flesh out your identity, including:
- Full legal name, including suffix
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Residence, including address and county
- Each dependant child's name and date of birth
- Signature, which attests to the truthfulness of what you've detailed
You'll be asked vital statistic related questions about your sex, race, ethnicity, occupation, and highest education level completed. The Indiana State Department of Public Health requests this information for its summary reports. Collected data is aggregated and cannot be traced back to you.
You'll be asked to document how many times you've been married, how the last one ended (e.g., divorce, death, annulment), and when it ended (month, day, and year).
You'll be asked to specify each parent's full name, including your mother's maiden name; last known residence; and birthplace, if known.
Social security number
Your social security number, which is kept confidential, is collected solely to enforce delinquent child support payments through the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS), as required under the federal Title IV-D program.
The clerk is required to present you written or videotaped information on AIDS, HIV, and other STD's, explaining cause and effect, high risk behaviors, precautionary measures, the importance of seeking medical treatment if infection is suspected, and a list of local AIDS testing sites.
You'll be asked to acknowledge receipt of this information by signing and dating the "acknowledgement" portion of the application.
If you object to receiving this STD-related information on religious grounds, it will not be provided to you, nor will you have to sign the acknowledgement. The clerk will notate your objection on the application.
Application is a public record
Be cognizant of the fact that your application, along with the issued license and certificate, will become a public record, recorded in a book that's kept in the clerk's office.
Documents you'll be issued
Your issued marriage license will also have two, blank "marriage certificate" documents attached. One certificate will be marked "original" and the other "duplicate." Provide these documents to whoever will solemnize your marriage.
The state requires all clerks to solicit documentary evidence to confirm your date of birth, regardless of how old you are or look. It's also used to confirm residency for county residents.
ID unable to prove residency
If you need to confirm county residency but your identification fails to do so, bring some other document to corroborate residency, such as a utility bill, rental lease, or credit card or bank statement.
You must submit an original or certified copy of your birth certificate. If you don't have a birth certificate, submit a certified copy of a judicial decree that establishes your date of birth.
If you have neither a birth certificate nor judicial decree, present an unexpired government-issued identity document that shows your date of birth and current address, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, military ID card, or military discharge papers.
Bottom line, as long as your age and residency is verified to the "satisfaction of the clerk" you're good to go.
Age and marriage
Which of the following four age groups do you fall under?
18 years old and above
If you're 18 years old or older, you do not need to obtain consent to marry from a parent, guardian, or court of law.
17 years old
If you're 17 years old, you must obtain consent to marry from your guardian or parents.
15 or 16 years old
14 years old and below
If you're 14 years old or younger, you cannot get married under any circumstance.
Who grants consent?
Whoever is granting consent for you to marry must declare it in the presence of the clerk of the circuit court. Their signature will be required on the supplied consent form. Granting consent in absentia by way of a notarized affidavit is not acceptable; in office, physical presence is mandatory.
If you have a court-appointed legal guardian, he or she must grant consent for you to marry.
Assuming you don't qualify for any "one parent only" exceptions, both your parents must grant consent for you to marry.
Only one parent
You will only need to obtain consent to marry from one parent if he or she is your custodial parent, or if your other parent is deceased, has abandoned you, is mentally incompetent, is physically incapacitated, or their whereabouts is unknown.
Your sole consenting parent must provide a substantiated statement explaining why the other parent's consent is unnecessary or unavailable.
If your guardian, parent, or parents are unwilling to grant consent for you to marry, you have one remaining option available: obtain judicial authorization from a circuit or superior court judge.
Court authorization, with consent
If you have consent to marry, you'll have to file a petition with a circuit or superior court in the county where you reside.
Your petition must confirm that consent has been granted, the female is pregnant or has given birth to a child, and that the other applicant is the father of the born or unborn child.
A hearing will be scheduled and your guardian or parents will be notified to attend. However, only one parent will be given notice of the hearing if they're the custodial parent or the other parent is deceased, has abandoned you, whereabouts is unknown, or is delinquent in child support payments.
The hearing gives everyone—petitioners, guardian, and parents—an opportunity to make their case and present evidence to the judge, for or against the proposed marriage.
If you've successfully made your case, and what you've stated in your petition has borne out to be true, the judge will issue a written order authorizing the clerk of the circuit court to issue you a marriage license.
The judge's order will remain confidential, not part of the public record, held within the clerk of the circuit court's records, and only available for inspection through a written request furnished by the superior, circuit, or juvenile court.
Court authorization, without consent
If you do not have consent to marry, you must submit a written or oral petition to a circuit or superior court in either the county where you live or a neighboring county.
The judge may or may not conduct investigations or hold hearings. Once the facts are laid out and consumed by the judge, he or she must determine if there's enough justification for to you marry and that it's in your best interest to do so.
Non-consent, judge's order
If the judge approves your petition, you'll be a provided a written order that directs the clerk of the circuit court to issue you a license to marry, even without the consent of a parent or guardian.
Your Indiana marriage license will expire 60 days after it has been issued. Renewals or refunds are not possible. If you still wish to marry, you must submit a new application and pay the license fee again.
Keep in mind, your issued marriage license will forever remain part of the public record, whether or not you eventually go through with the marriage.
Although blood tests are not required in order to get a marriage license, the clerk of the circuit court will provide you information on AIDS and other hazardous communicable diseases that are sexually transmitted.
If you've been married before, document your marital history on the application. Most, but not all, clerks of the circuit court will want to see a certified copy of the divorce decree or death certificate.
The following types of marriages are prohibited and would be void if established.
You cannot marry anyone in your family whose relationship to you is closer than second cousins, which includes grandparents, parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews.
The state does not distinguish between whole blood, half blood, and adoptive relationships, so they are presumably treated equally and uniformly banned.
You are permitted to marry your first cousin if both of you are at least 65 years old.
You cannot marry if you have a living husband or wife. That marriage must be dissolved, through divorce or annulment, before remarrying.
If you've been deemed mentally incompetent by a court of valid jurisdiction, you cannot marry unless the adjudication has been lifted.
If you're below the age of 18, you cannot marry unless you resolve all consent and/or judicial requirements that pertain to underage applicants.
Who may solemnize?
The person who solemnizes—also referred to as performing or presiding over—your marriage ceremony is often referred to as the officiant or officiator.
State law dictates who can and cannot solemnize. The list of authorized officiants is quite flexible and does not mandate they be state residents. They are as follows:
Your marriage can be solemnized by a judge; mayor, within their county; clerk or clerk-treasurer of a city or town, within their county; or clerk of the circuit court, but not their deputy or assistant.
Your marriage can be solemnized by any member of the clergy who belongs to any religious organization, including, but not limited to, a minister of the gospel, priest, rabbi, bishop, archbishop, or imam.
Your marriage can be solemnized by an authorized designee of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers; Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís; German Baptists; or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Your marriage license must be presented to whoever is authorized to solemnize your marriage. The license grants them the legal authority to preside over your marriage ceremony.
Witnesses are not required to attend your marriage ceremony.
Completing the certificates
Attached to your marriage license will be two marriage certificates, one tagged "original" and the other "duplicate." At the conclusion of your marriage ceremony, your officiant must fill out both certificates, documenting their name, you and your spouse's name, and the date and place the ceremony was conducted.
Filing the license and certificate
The original marriage certificate must be given to you, while the marriage license and duplicate certificate must be returned to the clerk of the circuit court that issued them no later than 30 days after the ceremony.
Once your marriage license and duplicate certificate has been returned to the clerk of the circuit court that issued them, it will be recorded and filed in the court's records.
Forward to vital records
Non-personally identifiable statistical data culled from your marriage records, among others, are accessible for public inspection.
Ordering certified copies
Even though the state's vital records office is forwarded a copy of your marriage records (application, license, and duplicate certificate), you can only order certified copies of your marriage certificate from the clerk of the circuit court that issued and recorded it. The cost is the same had you ordered copies on the day you applied.
Return to wrong circuit court
If your license and certificate are returned to the wrong clerk of the circuit court, don't fret; the wrong clerk will automatically reroute it to the right clerk.
Errors or non-returned certificate
If your officiant improperly completes your marriage certificate or fails to file the license and certificate, you or your spouse can fix it by requesting a declaratory judgment in the circuit court that's in the same jurisdiction where your marriage ceremony was held.
You can submit evidence to the court, via affidavit or verbal testimony, detailing corrections to be made, if your certificate contains errors, or documenting when and where your ceremony occurred, if your certificate was not accurately filed.
If the court agrees with your assessment, they'll issue a declaratory order containing the corrections or facts that document when and where the ceremony took place. Present the court order to the original clerk of the circuit court so that it may be amended or recorded like any other return.
If you were to marry in another state, territory, jurisdiction, or country, your marriage would be recognized in Indiana as long as you could have legally gotten married here.
Evading state laws
If either you or your spouse reside in Indiana, then marry outside the state for the sole purpose of evading this state's marriage laws, your marriage would be void upon your return home.
Indiana does not permit marriage by proxy, which is when you engage another person to act as your substitute during the marriage ceremony.
You cannot establish a common-law marriage in Indiana. However, the state does recognize historic common-law marriages that took place on or before January 1, 1958.
Refusal to issue license
If the clerk of the circuit court refuses to issue you a marriage license, you can try to get their decision reversed by the circuit court.
Upon your application being rejected, you can request the clerk immediately certify their refusal to the circuit court, in which the court will schedule a hearing. The hearing will either be held in open court or the judge's chamber; there will be no jury.
The court's ruling, which is final, will either affirm the original refusal or overturn it by instructing the clerk to issue a license. Whatever happens, you will not be charged court fees.
Finding a circuit court
It's worth reiterating that residency requirements do come into play, so be sure to choose the proper court when applying.