Marriage Certificate Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Marriage Certificate, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Marriage Certificate?

Official document that attests that a marriage occurred.

History and Meaning of Marriage Certificate

A marriage certificate is a legal document that verifies the couple's marriage. It is typically issued by the government or a religious organization that officiated the marriage ceremony. The history of marriage certificates can be traced back to the 16th century when the Council of Trent mandated that marriages be recorded in the church's registry to ensure the legality of the marriage.

In the United States, marriage certificates are issued by the state government, and the requirements for obtaining a marriage certificate vary by state. Most states require both parties to appear in-person and bring identification documents to the clerk's office. After the marriage ceremony, the officiant files the signed marriage license with the state government, and the couple can request a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

Examples of Marriage Certificate

  1. A couple applied for a marriage certificate at the county clerk's office before their wedding ceremony.
  2. The bride and groom signed the marriage certificate during the wedding ceremony before the officiant filed it with the government.
  3. The couple needed a copy of their marriage certificate to apply for a joint mortgage.
  4. The divorce lawyer requested a copy of the marriage certificate as evidence of the marriage's existence.
  5. The immigration officer reviewed the marriage certificate to confirm the couple's eligibility for a spousal visa.

Legal Terms Similar to Marriage Certificate

  1. Marriage license: A legal document that authorizes the couple to get married.
  2. Certificate of marriage: A document that confirms the marriage's legal recognition by the government or religious organization.
  3. Domestic partnership affidavit: A legal documentation of a committed relationship recognized by some states and provides many of the same legal benefits as marriage.
  4. Civil union certificate: A document that legalizes a relationship between two individuals who may not be allowed to marry yet are recognized by some states.
  5. Cohabitation agreement: A contract between couples who live together but are not married or in a civil union.