Marriage License Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Marriage License?

Official document that enables a man and woman to be married.

History and Meaning of Marriage License

Marriage license is a legal document issued by the government that enables a couple to be married. It is a prerequisite to getting married in many countries and states, and is issued by the local government office responsible for marriage registration. The concept of a marriage license originated in medieval Europe as a way for the church to control marriage and prevent incestuous and clandestine unions.

In the United States, marriage licenses were first introduced in the mid-19th century as a way to regulate and encourage marriage between two consenting adults. They were also used to prevent interracial and same-sex marriages, which were prohibited by law in many states until the late 20th century.

Today, marriage licenses serve as a legal record of a couple's marriage and are required to access certain government benefits, such as tax breaks, health insurance, and social security. They also outline the legal rights and responsibilities of each partner in the marriage.

Examples of Marriage License

  1. Sarah and John went to the county clerk's office to apply for a marriage license before their wedding day.

  2. In order to obtain a marriage license, couples usually need to provide identification, proof of residency, and pay a fee.

  3. The marriage license is signed by the couple and the officiant during the wedding ceremony, and is then filed with the government.

Legal Terms Similar to Marriage License

  1. Civil Union - a legal status similar to marriage, often available to same-sex couples, that grants them certain legal rights and responsibilities.

  2. Domestic Partnership - a legal relationship that can be registered by couples who live together but are not married, granting them some of the same rights as married couples.

  3. Prenuptial Agreement - a legal contract between two people who are planning to get married, outlining how assets and debts will be divided in case of divorce.