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Ohio Court Records

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Ohio Marriage Records

Ohio marriage records are official documents that contain details of marriages filed within the state. Such records typically include the following information:

  • The full birth names of both spouses
  • The date the marriage occured
  • Marriage location (city and county in Ohio). 
  • Names of witnesses present 
  • Name of the officiating minister. 
  • Previous marital status of the couple.
  • Names of couple parents (first, middle, and last( 
  • State certificate number

Marriage records serve as an essential state resource for tracking and identifying family relationships. They may also be required for official processes that call for proof of marriage, such as a name change, adoptions, mortgage applications, and financial concerns. 

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Ohio

Ohio maintains different marriage records, including certified copies of marriage certificates and licenses. However, marriage certificates and marriage licenses aren't the same thing.

Marriage Certificate

A marriage certificate is a document that shows a couple is married. It's usually required when married couples apply for programs that require proof of their union. For instance, a marriage certificate may be needed when applying for social benefits for healthcare, mortgages, or social security. In Ohio, marriage certificates are issued by the probate court in the county where the marriage occured. 

Marriage License

A marriage license is a document that grants couples the right to marry in the state of Ohio. Both parties must meet the marriage eligibility requirements to obtain a marriage license. 

  • Applicants must indicate their consent and be at least 18 years old. 
  • Neither party must be in another existing marriage. 
  • Both parties must not be related to each other (nothing nearer than second cousins)

For state residents, most counties require that at least one of the applicants must live in the county. If none of the applicants live in the county, the marriage must be held in the county after the license is issued.

Note: Females who are at least 16 can marry with parental consent, while any male under 18 will require judicial consent

Are Ohio Marriage Records Public?

Marriage records are generally public in Ohio. The Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics maintains a statewide index for such records. It includes details of marriages registered from 1950 to the present. To find records, you'll need to know when the marriage occured and where it took place. You'll also need details about the parties, such as their full names and parents' names. Certified copies of a record can only be obtained by submitting a request to the probate court in charge of the records

How to Find Marriage Records in Ohio

You'll need to know where the license was issued to find marriage records in Ohio. Unlike some states where a central agency maintains marriage records, the custodianship of Ohio marriage records are shared across the county probate courts.  In compliance with state laws, most couples obtain licenses from the county where they live at the time of the marriage. However,  marriage ceremonies may be held in other parts of the state.

You can contact the custodial court to request a search if you know where a marriage was held but not the exact year. Most courts allow applicants to search across a specific time frame (e.g., ten years). Some of the other information that can assist with searches include:

  • Name of the parties on the record (first, middle, and last)
  • County or city where it occured
  • Name of parents (first, middle, and last)
  • Certificate ID

How to Get a Marriage License in Ohio

Marriage licenses are issued at probate courts across different counties. Couples who wish to obtain a license can do so by following a few general steps.

Step 1. Confirm Eligibility

Marriage licenses are only issued to parties who meet the state eligibility requirements. To be considered for a license, both parties must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have the consent of parents or legal guardians if less than 19
  • Indicate their consent to be married.

Step 2. Gather the Required Documents

Couples who wish to obtain a license must provide documentation that proves their identity, such as a valid government-issued ID. Acceptable options include:

  • US/Foreign passport
  • Driver's license
  • State ID card
  • Military ID

Applicants may also be required to provide additional information, such as their address and social security number. If either party was previously married, the applicant must provide a copy of the final decree of the dissolution, divorce, or annulment. In comparison, widowed applicants do not need to provide a death certificate.

Step 3. Apply for the licenses

License applications are made in person at the probate court. Some courts allow walk-in applications. Others may require a couple to make an appointment. Couples must also pay the required fee as part of the application process.

Different rules apply to state residents and non-residents. If you live in Ohio, you must apply for a marriage license in the same county where you reside. After the license is issued, you can marry anywhere else in the state. In contrast, although out-of-state residents can apply for marriage licenses, the marriage ceremony must be done within the same county. 

Step 4. Pay the Fee

While the fee for obtaining a marriage license in Ohio varies with different counties, most counties charge more than $40. Acceptable forms of payment may include cash, money orders, or credit cards. After the license is issued, couples may proceed to marry. Marriage licenses generally remain valid for 60 days. If a marriage is not performed before its expiry, both parties must reapply and pay for a new one. 

Who can obtain Marriage Records in Ohio?

Anyone can obtain marriage records in Ohio. Marriage records are public, and access to these records is not restricted by identity or purpose. To obtain copies of a record, requesters must submit a request with the probate court where the records are stored and pay the appropriate fee. Record requests can either be made in person or by mail. In-person requests must be submitted during regular business hours between Monday to Friday. 

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Ohio

Some marriage records may be free online, depending on when they were created and the type of information being sought. For instance, the Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics maintains a statewide downloadable index for marriages from 1990. However, the database only contains abstract information sourced from certificates filed with the County Probate courts. 

Record seekers may also be able to find free records using third-party search platforms. 

Is Ohio a Common Law State for Marriage?

Common law marriages are partially recognized in Ohio. In compliance with state laws, common law marriages established in Ohio are only recognized if they meet the following conditions:

  • The marriage must have been created before October 1991
  • Couples must have an intent to be married
  • Couples must live together (cohabitation)
  • Couples must hold themselves and be viewed as married by other members of the community.

Some cities and counties in Ohio allow couples to register as domestic partners. However, such arrangements are not codified in state law and, therefore, do not confer the same rights as a marriage. Regions that permit domestic partnerships include Athens, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, Dayton, Cuyahoga County, Franklin County, and Yellow Springs. To establish a domestic partnership, intending parties must be over 18 years old, be unrelated, unmarried, and share a common residence.

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