Marriage and Living Together
General Marriage Requirements
How Old Do I Have to be to Get Married?
Question & Answer Section, General Marriage Requirements
GENERAL MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS
Who can marry?
In Kentucky, only a man and a woman can marry each other. Same-sex marriages are not allowed or recognized in Kentucky (even if the same-sex marriage was allowed in another state). Relatives cannot marry each other, including first and second cousins. Two people cannot marry each other if either of them has a living husband or wife. (In other words, you can’t get married if you are already married!). Generally, people cannot get married unless they are both 18 years old. (There are some exceptions to this rule, however).
Generally, the two people must be at least 18 years old to get married. There are some exceptions, however:
- People who are 17 can get married if the person who is 17 gets consent from the parent or guardian (the person who has legal custody/control over a minor).
- People who are 15 or 16 can get married if the court approves the marriage. The court can approve the marriage if the female is pregnant (or is a mother), the person she wants to marry is the father of the child, and the persons who are 15 or 16 have received the consent of their parents or guardians.
- People who are 15-17 but cannot get consent from their parents or guardians can ask the court to approve the marriage. The court can approve a marriage without consent of the parents if the court finds there is good reason to do so, and if the female is pregnant. If the court does not approve the marriage, and the parents do not approve the marriage, you cannot get a marriage license if you are under 16.
Before two people can get married, they first must get a marriage license. You should get the marriage license from the county clerk’s office where one of the persons lives (or from the county where the marriage will take place if neither person lives in Kentucky). If both applicants are under age, the application needs to be made in the bride’s county of residence. To get a marriage license, you need to fill out a written application, and you will need to swear that everything in the application is true. The applications can be found at the county clerk’s office for your county. The application will include the following information about each applicant:
- full name
- where you were born
- where you live
- names of dependent children
- names, residence, and birthplace of applicants’ parents
- information to determine whether there is any reason the persons could not marry
What you should take with you when you apply for a marriage license?
You should call the clerk’s office before you go to ask about their specific requirements. (See contact information for Kentucky County Clerks.) The same marriage laws apply throughout Kentucky, but some county clerks may have minor differences in their requirements. Things you may need to bring include:
- Driver’s license or other identification (Social Security Card, Picture ID, Passport)
- Certified copy of your birth certificate.
- Certified copy of your divorce decree if you were married and divorced before.
- Proof of residency in county (driver’s license, utility bill, etc.).
- Money for the license fee.
A minister or priest, all justices and judges of the Court of Justice, justices of the peace and fiscal court commissioners may perform marriages anywhere in Kentucky.
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HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO GET MARRIED?
How old do I Have to be to Get Married?
Generally, each person must be at least 18 years old to get married. However, sometimes 15, 16 and 17 year olds can marry.
People who are 17 can get married if the person who is 17 gets consent from the parents or guardian (the person who has legal custody or control over a minor). Usually, the under-age person needs the consent of both parents. If the under-age person has a legally appointed guardian, then that guardian needs to consent (not the parents).
Only one parent needs to consent if:
- that parent has court-ordered custody of the under-age person;
- the other parent is deceased;
- the other parent has abandoned the under-age person;
- the other parent is physically or mentally incompetent to provide consent; or
- the whereabouts of the other parent are unknown.
The consent must be signed and verified (swear or affirm in writing that the information is correct in front of the court clerk). So the parent(s) or legal guardian must go with the under-age person to the clerk’s office to sign the consent.
Court order authorizing the issuance of a marriage license
People who are 15 or 16 can get married if the under-age person gets consent as explained above AND gets a court order allowing the clerk to issue a marriage license. The court will grant such an order if the two people who want to marry are the parents of a child or are expecting a baby. The persons who want to marry would need to file a petition in the circuit court explaining that they are 15 or 16, that the female is pregnant or a mother, that the male is the father of the child, and that they have received the required consent. The court will then give notice to the parents of the persons who want to marry and will have a hearing. After the hearing, the court can then allow the clerk to issue a marriage license.
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QUESTION: ANSWER SECTION, GENERAL MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS
If my spouse is not sure if he is divorced from his first wife, can we get married?
No. Your spouse needs to find out if he is still married. If he is still married, then he must first seek a divorce from his first spouse, and wait until that divorce is finalized. Once it is finalized, then you can marry him.
What if I am under 18, but my parent(s) won’t consent to my marriage?
People who are 15-17 but can’t get consent from their parents can ask the court to authorize the marriage. The court can authorize a marriage without consent of the parents if the court finds there is good reason to do so. The persons who want to marry can make a written or a verbal petition to the court. The court will then consider all of the facts. If the court finds there is good reason for the marriage and the marriage would be in the best interest of all people involved, the court can order the clerk to issue a marriage license.
What kind of marriages are not allowed in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, you cannot marry a relative who is a second cousin or closer kin. Kentucky also does not allow you to marry if you are already married to someone else. You cannot marry someone who is mentally incompetent, and who cannot validly consent to the marriage. Kentucky does not recognize same sex marriages or common law marriages.
My wife and I have been together for 15 years, but we never officially married. Do we have a common law marriage?
No. Kentucky does not recognize common law marriages. If you and your wife want to be considered as a married couple, you need to actually get married.
Reviewed August 2009