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Rights of a Marriage Certificate

Marriage is a contract and as such, it requires a hardcopy certificate to make it valid. Whereas a marriage license clears a couple to get married, a marriage certificate is the legal document that is signed by the couple and the judge or priest presiding over the marriage. Depending on the state, the marriage license and the marriage certificate could be one-and-the-same document. In fact, if you were married overseas, you may only need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate to obtain a valid certificate from the state you now reside in.

Once you are officially married and have your validated marriage certificate you and your spouse get to take advantage of the 1400 state and federal government benefits. These benefits span a wide range of rights and protections, including:

  •     Crime victim recovery benefits
  •     Child support
  •     Medicare
  •     Social security
  •     Joint filing of tax returns
  •     Sick or bereavement leave to care for spouse or children
  •     Spousal veteran benefits
  •     Judicial protection and immunity
  •     Immigration and residency for partners from other countries
  •     Wrongful death benefits for surviving partners and or children
  •     Credit protection
  •     Estate and gift tax benefits
  •     Medical care for survivors and dependents of certain veterans
  •     Welfare and public assistance
  •     Joint insurance plans
  •     Joint housing for elderly

These state and federal benefits are just a few that married couples get to look forward to. With your valid marriage certificate you can easily access these benefits. With the help of the United States Vital Records Resources you can find information about how to request a copy of your marriage certificate.

Responsibilities of Marriage

Every married couple should know the right and responsibilities bequeathed to them. First and foremost, if you should ever lose or misplace your marriage certificate, it would be in your best interest to order a copy as soon as possible. This can be done in person by visiting your local County Clerk or Health & Human Services Department during business hours.

The more convenient way of getting a copy of your marriage certificate is to either download a request form or fill one out online. Access to these request forms varies from state to state. In most cases this means downloading a PDF form, which you can then submit in person or send by mail. In the states that can accommodate online requests, the process is that much more convenient.

Before you even think about setting a wedding date, it is extremely important that you know the requirements for getting married in your jurisdiction. These requirements are usually made clear to you as soon as you apply for a marriage certificate. Please note that you might be required to produce the following:

  •     Blood test results
  •     Marital counseling certificate
  •     Provide valid identification (drivers license, valid passport)
  •     Pay a small processing fee
  •     Residential proof
  •     Proof of age
  •     Divorce decree certificate (if previously divorced)
  •     Municipal death certificate (if a previous spouse passed away)
Getting married is a responsibility and should never be taken lightly. By the same token, it should never be too seriously either. Square away your paper work and get on with your marital bliss. Apply for your license, obtain your marriage certificate, then enjoy the ceremony. If you need more in-depth information, the good folks at the National Center for Health Statistics can direct you to the answers.