If you plan to get married in Mississippi you must first apply for a Mississippi marriage license at any circuit court within any county. The clerk of the circuit court will guide you through the application process.
You and your prospective spouse must both be in attendance during the making of the application. Although office hours vary across circuit courts, state law forbids marriage license issuance outside the hours of 8am to 6pm.
The goal of this article is to fully prepare you for what is to come when you get to the circuit court as well as what to expect during and after your marriage ceremony.
You will not be issued a marriage license if the circuit court clerk believes you to be intoxicated, mentally ill, or intellectually incapable of understanding the significance and repercussions of a marriage license.
A Mississippi marriage license costs between $20 and $23.
The circuit court clerk deposits $14 out of every license fee into the state's Victims of Domestic Violence Fund, on a monthly basis.
There are no residency requirements pertaining to procuring a marriage license. You may submit a marriage license application at any Mississippi circuit court.
The Mississippi marriage license application requires you to disclose the following in writing and swear to its accuracy before the circuit court clerk:
- Name (first, middle, last, no initials or abbreviations)
- Last name prior to first marriage
- Age and date of birth
- Place of birth (state or foreign country)
- Race (choose one or more):
- Black or African American
- Asian Indian
- Native Hawaiian
- Guamanian or Chamorro
- American Indian or Alaska Native (specify enrolled or principal tribe's name)
- Other Pacific Islander (specify)
- Other Asian (specify)
- Other (specify)
- Residence (state or foreign country, city or town, and county)
The following information will not appear on certified copies of your marriage certificate:
- Total number of previous marriages (do not include "this" marriage)
- Date of last marriage and how it ended (e.g., divorce, death, annulment), if any
- Highest education level completed (choose one):
- 8th grade or below
- 9th–12th grade (no diploma)
- High school graduate or GED completed
- Some college (no degree)
- Associate's degree (e.g., AA, AS)
- Bachelor's degree (e.g., BA, AB, BS)
- Master's degree (e.g., MA, MS, MEng, MEd, MSW, MBA)
- Doctorate (e.g., PhD, EdD) or professional degree (e.g., MD, DDS, DVM, LLB, JD)
- Parents' names and addresses
- Guardian's or next of kin's name and address, if parentless and under 21 years of age
Statistical record of marriage form
The circuit court clerk will copy over your submitted application information onto a blank "statistical record of marriage" form (No. 595) that will later be forwarded to the Vital Records Department within the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).
You must proofread and sign the statistical record, which certifies that the information contained within is accurate.
The concluding recording section of this article will fully clarify the purpose of this document and why it's important to you.
Once your application is accepted by the circuit court clerk and applicable fees paid, you will be issued a marriage license.
In addition to your license, you will be given the partially completed statistical record of marriage form. Your authorized officiant must complete the "ceremony" portion of the statistical record at the end of your marriage ceremony.
In Mississippi, the age of majority (a.k.a. age of legal adulthood) is 21 years. If you're below the age of 21, you must obtain written consent to marry from your parents or guardians.
If you're a male who's at least 17 years old or a female who's at least 15 years old, you're legally "capable" of contracting marriage in Mississippi. If you're below this age of "capability" you may only marry with the permission of a judge.
Proof of consent
If you're below the age of 21, submit proof that your parents or guardians consent to your proposed marriage. Proof of consent typically comes in the form of an affidavit signed by your parents or guardians. The circuit court furnishes blank consent forms for such use.
Even if your parents or guardians intend to accompany you to the making of the application, their consent must still be put in written form so that the clerk may file it along with the application.
If you're a male who's younger than 17 or a female who's younger than 15, you may only marry if a Mississippi judge of the circuit, chancery, or county court agrees. The judge must be from the same county where you or the other applicant resides.
Your parents, guardians, or other person legally responsible for your care must consent to your proposed marriage. Satisfactory proof of their consent must be presented to the judge.
If the judge finds sufficient rationale exists to your proposed marriage, the minimum age requirement will be waived and a written court order will be granted that authorizes the circuit court clerk to issue you a marriage license.
Proof of age
You must show the circuit court clerk a document to prove your age, such as a:
- Driver's license
- Birth certificate
- Baptismal record
- Military identification card
- Military discharge papers (a.k.a. DD Form 214)
- Insurance certificate (e.g., auto, liability, worker's compensation)
- Life insurance policy
- School, college, or university record
If you don't have any of the above documents, then present another credible document that substantiates your age and date of birth.
Although the circuit court clerk has the legal authority to keep the original or certified copy of your presented proof of age document, he or she will likely just make a photocopy to preserve with your application.
Affidavit for minors
If you're below the age of 21, you must submit an affidavit from your parent, guardian, or next of kin that states your age. The affidavit will be retained by the circuit court clerk and filed with your application.
ID for parents and guardians
If your parents or guardians have it in mind to join you and grant consent to your marriage in the presence of the circuit court clerk, they too must supply valid identification. Guardians must present guardianship papers.
There is no waiting period; you will be issued a Mississippi marriage license the same day you apply for it. You may then use your license straight away.
Mississippi law previously imposed a three-day waiting period before a marriage license was issued, but Governor Phil Bryant's April 18, 2012 signing of Senate Bill 2851 eliminated the wait time, effective July 1, 2012.
Senate Bill 2851 also eradicated the blood test requirement.
Your Mississippi marriage license will never expire.
Mississippi no longer requires you to obtain a blood test for syphilis in order to receive a marriage license.
On April 18, 2012, Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2851 into law which rescinded the blood test requirement, effective July 1, 2012.
This same bill also got rid of the three-day waiting period that was imposed before a marriage license was issued.
If you've been previously married you must present a certified copy of your last divorce decree, annulment certificate, or spouse's death certificate.
Although some circuit court clerks may not require you to present proof of a divorce finalized within the past year, the application will certainly ask for the divorce date.
You are prohibited from marrying any of the following members of your family in Mississippi:
- Legally adopted child
- First cousin
- Child's widow
- Child's widower
- Spouse's child
- Spouse's grandchild
If you were to marry any of the preceding family relations, the marriage would be incestuous and void. Either party to an incestuous marriage may initiate a chancery court suit to have it annulled.
Evading the law
If you're a Mississippi resident who tries to evade Mississippi law by marrying a family member of a prohibited degree outside the state, the marriage would be declared incestuous and void upon your return as if it were unlawfully contracted here.
Marriage within a prohibited degree would make a person guilty of incest, which upon conviction carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, a fine of $500, or both.
You cannot get married if you have a living spouse, as the subsequent marriage would constitute bigamy. Bigamous marriages are void in Mississippi. Either party to a bigamous marriage may request a declaration of annulment from the chancery court.
Who may solemnize?
The person who solemnizes your marriage is referred to as the officiant.
Your marriage may be solemnized by any person who's authorized to solemnize marriages according to the rules of his or her religious body or society as long as he or she remains in good standing.
Furthermore, your marriage may be solemnized by a judge of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, circuit court, chancery court, or county court.
Lastly, justice court judges and members of any county board of supervisors are permitted to solemnize your marriage within their county of jurisdiction.
As a historical note, municipal mayors are no longer eligible to solemnize marriages, effective March 14, 1994.
Witnesses are not required to attend your marriage ceremony.
The performing of your marriage ceremony is called solemnization. It must be conducted by an authorized officiant. Solemnization cannot lawfully occur without a properly issued Mississippi marriage license.
As you may recall, the issued documents section explained that you will be handed two documents: marriage license and statistical record of marriage. At the conclusion of your ceremony, the officiant is to complete the "ceremony" section on both documents.
Completing the certificate
At the bottom of your marriage license is a section for your officiant to sign and document when and where the ceremony was held. Attached to the bottom may be a tear-off duplicate for your officiant to keep for his or her records.
After this is done, you may keep the marriage license; this document does not need to be returned to the circuit court clerk for recording. The "statistical record of marriage" is the critical document that must be returned to the circuit clerk, which is discussed next.
Completing the statistical record
Your officiant must complete the ceremony section on the statistical record of marriage form in typed or printed black ink. The following details must be provided:
- Ceremony location (Mississippi county and city or town, or nearby city or town)
- Date of marriage (month name written out or abbreviated)
- Signature (written, not typed nor stamped)
- Officiant's printed name
- Officiant's title (e.g., minister, pastor, rabbi, justice court judge)
- Officiant's mailing address (street and number or route and box number, city or town, state, and postal code)
- Ceremony type (civil or religious)
Your officiant must return the completed statistical record to the issuing circuit court clerk within five days after the ceremony.
The circuit court clerk will forward the completed and returned statistical record of marriage to the Office of Vital Records by the tenth day of each calendar month.
Why should you care about this?
- Your marriage will not be officially recognized by the State of Mississippi until its statistical record of marriage is registered by the State Department of Health.
- You cannot obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate until the State Department of Health registers your statistical record.
You can obtain certified copies of your marriage certificate, as well as other vital records, from the Vital Records Office, which is part of the State Department of Health.
A certified copy of your marriage certificate serves as state-sanctioned proof of your marriage's existence and will be accepted in all Mississippi courts and government institutions as such evidence.
You may use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to change your name with the Social Security Administration, Department of Public Safety (DPS), and U.S. Passports & International Travel.
You can choose to change your last name to your spouse's, hyphenate last names, and/or replace your middle name with your maiden name. You cannot change your first name using your marriage certificate; first name changes require a court order.
You cannot apply by proxy nor marry by proxy. The use of a power of attorney or affidavit for such purpose will be rejected. Exceptions will not be made for incarcerated, disabled, or active duty military applicants.
Mississippi abolished common-law marriage, effective April 5, 1956; however, any common-law marriage established before this date will continue to be recognized.
Next step, circuit court
Getting married in Mississippi is fairly straightforward once you know what to expect when submitting a marriage license application. Your next step is to choose a circuit court within any county to apply in.