Marriage records are usually kept in an office at the county level. This can be a court or a recorder/registrar. Many marriage records are public, and these can be accessed by members of the public in a variety of ways, including online with free searching. While some counties maintain online searchable databases of public marriage records, some do not. A variety of private online businesses offer to locate public marriage records online as well.
Public vs. Private Marriage Records
Most official records are public, including court cases, death records, divorce records and marriage records. Marriage records are much more concise than divorce records, usually only including the marriage license application and the marriage certificate.
In most states, if a couple doesn't request that their marriage records be kept confidential, they are considered public. In some places, like Los Angeles County, a couple can obtain a confidential marriage license rather than a public one. This means that the personal information on the marriage license is protected from public view. This can be used by any couple desiring privacy, including celebrities.
In a few states, like Georgia, the marriage license application is private anyway, even without an application for a confidential marriage license. Only a Georgia marriage certificate is public.
Finding Marriage Records
Where to look for marriage records? The
Counties that do offer online databases, like Volusia County in Florida, usually have a document describing how to use the searches. These are your best bet for finding marriage records for free online. While you'll pay a fee if you want to order a copy of a marriage record, online county searches are normally free and allow you to search by name, document name, document number and/or marriage date.
Don't exclude the possibility of using private online records websites. If you run a few searches on the internet for marriage records, you'll find many of these businesses offering to help you. These are for-profit businesses and, sooner or later, will ask you to pay a fee. If you have reason to believe that a company is reputable and you don't mind paying, you can use the service. It's always a good idea not to provide an online company with more private information about yourself than absolutely necessary to get the transaction accomplished.
With a Master's in English, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's law school, Teo Spengler is up on education. She splits her home time between San Francisco and France. A perpetual student and frequent teacher, she is also a writer and world traveler. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Fairmont Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites.
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