Notice of intentions
If you're going to get married in Maine you must first record your notice of intentions of marriage at a municipal clerk's office. Recording notice of intentions basically means to submit a marriage license application. You must apply together.
Residency determines where you can apply. Afterward, you can marry anywhere in the state.
If either you or your future spouse is a resident of Maine, you must apply for your license in the municipal clerk's office of either's residence. If your municipality has no clerk's office, apply in the neighboring municipality.
If neither of you lives in Maine, feel free to apply in any municipal clerk's office.
A Maine marriage license:
- Costs $40
- Is nonrefundable
- Is payable at the time you file your intentions of marriage
A certified copy of a Maine marriage certificate:
- Costs $15
- Additional copies are $6 each
- Can be purchased from the municipal clerk or State Registrar of Vital Statistics
- Will only exist after your marriage license has been recorded
The notice of intentions of marriage application is a three-page form. You can pick one up in any clerk's office, as they're all the same. If you fill it out in advance, don't sign it until you're in the presence of the municipal clerk or a notary public.
Familiarize yourself with the application questions:
- Self-designation (e.g., bride, groom, spouse)
- Current name and name before first marriage
- Date of birth
- Birthplace (state or country)
- Phone number
- Email, if available
- Social security number
- Residential and mailing address
- Parents' names before first marriage and birthplaces (state or country)
- Marriage "this" represents (e.g., first, second, third)
- How your last marriage ended (e.g., death, divorce, annulment), when it ended, where it ended (court name or location), and former spouse's name
- Whether or not you're registered as a domestic partner in Maine
Moreover, provide the following ceremony-related information, if known:
- Date of marriage
- City or town of marriage
- Officiant's name, title, phone number, email address, and mailing address
Application will become public
Forewarning: Your application will become a public record 50 years after you submit it, although your social security number will remain redacted.
There is no waiting period. Your marriage license will be issued immediately after your intentions are filed.
Your marriage license will expire 90 days after it's been issued.
You are not required to undergo a blood test.
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You must bring valid photo identification, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, military ID card, or passport.
If you've been married before, you must submit a certified copy of the divorce decree, annulment, or death certificate for the last marriage.
If you're going to present a divorce decree that's not in English, it must be translated into English by a disinterested third-party.
Marriage-related age requirements only apply to minors.
Under 18 years of age
If you're below the age of 18, you may only marry with the written consent of your parents, guardians, or court-appointed caretakers.
If there is no one capable of granting consent, the probate court judge in your county of residence has the authority to grant permission to your marriage after a hearing.
Under 16 years of age
If you're below the age of 16, you may marry with the permission of a probate court judge along with the written consent of your parents, guardians, or whoever has court-appointed custody of you.
Your first step is to record your intentions of marriage, as any other applicant would. Immediately thereafter, the clerk will alert the probate judge in your county of residence for further guidance.
Before rendering judgment, the judge may schedule a hearing where interested parties can be heard. Criminal histories will be taken into account as well as what's in your best interest.
The judge's written decision will be delivered to the clerk within 30 days, instructing them to either issue the license or reject your request. The clerk will notify you either way.
The person who solemnizes your marriage ceremony is called the officiant. The following persons are authorized to take on that role:
Your marriage may be solemnized by a resident of this State who's a:
- Notary public
- Lawyer admitted to the Maine State Bar Association
Your marriage may be solemnized by a nonresident from anywhere who's a:
- Ordained minister of the gospel
- Clergyperson belonging to any religious body
- Licensed preacher of an association of ministers, religious seminary, or religious body
Quakers or Baha'i members
Any marriage solemnized between Quakers or Friends or members of the Baha'i Faith is valid according to the customs of that religious society.
Temporary registration certificate holders
Any nonresident can essentially become minister for a day for a specifically named couple by filing a $100 registration with the Office of Data, Research, and Vital Statistics.
Two witnesses must attend your marriage ceremony and subsequently sign the marriage license in black ink. The officiant cannot serve as a witness.
Completing the license
Once the ceremony is over, the officiant must complete the ceremony portion of the marriage license by entering:
- Your name
- Spouse's name
- Date and place of marriage
- Names of two witnesses
- Officiant's signature
- Officiant's address
- Officiant's title
- Officiant's date of ordination or authorization to perform marriages
- Commission expiration date, for an officiating notary public
- Date of admission, for an officiating lawyer admitted to the State Bar
- Date of issuance, for an officiating temporary registration certificate holder
Returning the license
Whoever solemnizes your marriage must return the marriage license to the issuing municipal clerk no later than seven days following the ceremony.
Only the officiant is authorized to mail or hand-deliver the return; this responsibility cannot be delegated to you, your spouse, or a third-party.
If your marriage is solemnized by someone who lacked proper authority or jurisdiction, it wouldn't be void as long as either you or your spouse believed the marriage was lawfully conducted.
Refusal to solemnize
No religious individual or institution can be punished for refusing to solemnize or entertain your marriage. Such immunity extends to civil suits and tax-exempt statuses.
Once your marriage license has been returned to the issuing municipal clerk, it will be recorded and archived in office. A copy will be forwarded to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
After your marriage license has been recorded by the municipal clerk, it will then be called a marriage certificate.
Name change after marriage
You can change your middle or last name after marriage using a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This is the document the Social Security Administration, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and passport office wants to see to process your request.
Update: On June 1, 2017, Maine's Legislature passed House Bill 170 that would acknowledge a name change upon marriage. The state has allocated $44,000 to revise the application, license, and certificate the same year the law takes effect: 2018.
The newly inserted language is notable due to its gender-neutral instructions allowing either or both parties to a marriage to change their name:
If a party intends to change that party's name upon marriage, the application must include the proposed new name of that party.
This space will be updated once the law takes full effect.
If a court of competent jurisdiction has declared you to be an incapacitated person, you cannot get married without the consent of your court-appointed guardian. Incapacitation includes any illness or disability affecting your mind or body.
Marriage between relatives
If you were to marry any of the following family members in this State, it would be void and disbanded, even without a legal proceeding:
- First cousin, with one exception
First cousin exception
You can marry your first cousin if you provide the clerk a certificate signed by a physician that says they gave you and your intended spouse genetic counseling.
Out of state marriage
If you're a resident who marries out of state to evade Maine's marriage laws, and then returns here to continue living your life, the marriage would be void in this State.
Likewise, if you move to Maine being party to a marriage that couldn't have legally taken place here, the marriage would be considered void in this State.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Maine since December 29, 2012, a good two and a half years before the Supreme Court's landmark 5–4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Filing a caution
Filing a caution is a legal way to preemptively object to a marriage.
If a person believes a couple is about to get unlawfully married, they may be able to put a stop to it by filing a caution in the municipal clerk's office where the parties to the marriage will need to apply.
If the couple does get caught in the web of caution after submitting their intentions of marriage, the clerk will withhold the marriage license and defer the matter to the probate court judge of the surrounding county.
The court will schedule a hearing where all interested parties may be heard. The judge will typically render a decision within seven days, directing the clerk to either release or revoke the license.
If the judge ultimately rules in favor of the couple, the person who filed the caution will have to pay whatever costs the court decides. The couple pays no court fees, win or lose.