MARRIAGE LAWS OF WEST VIRGINIA
The marriage law in West Virginia is governed by the Chapter 48 "Domestic Relation" of the West Virginia Code.
PROHIBITION AGAINST MARRIAGE
'A man is prohibited from marrying his mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, granddaughter, half sister, aunt, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, first cousin or double cousin.
A woman is prohibited from marrying her father, grandfather, brother, son, grandson, half brother, uncle, brother's son, sister's son, first cousin or double cousin.
The prohibitions are also applicable to consanguineous relationships where persons are blood related by virtue of having a common ancestor.
The prohibitions are also applicable to persons related by affinity, where the relationship is founded on a marriage, and the prohibition continues in force even though the marriage is terminated by death or divorce, unless the divorce was ordered for a cause which made the marriage, originally, unlawful or void.
VOID AND VOIDABLE MARRIAGES
The following marriages are voidable and are void from the time they are so declared by a judgment order of nullity:
- Marriages that are prohibited by law on account of either of the parties having a wife or husband of a prior marriage, when the prior marriage has not been terminated by divorce, annulment or death;
- Marriages that are prohibited by law on account of consanguinity or affinity between the parties;
- Marriages solemnized when either of the parties:
- Was an insane person, idiot or imbecile;
- Was afflicted with a venereal disease;
- Was incapable, because of natural or incurable impotency of the body, of entering into the marriage state;
- Was under the age of consent; or
- Had been, prior to the marriage and without the knowledge of the other party, convicted of an infamous offense;
- Marriages solemnized when, at the time of the marriage, the wife, without the knowledge of the husband:
- Was with child by some person other than the husband; or
- Had been, prior to the marriage, notoriously a prostitute; or
- Marriages solemnized when, prior to the marriage, the husband, without the knowledge of the wife, had been notoriously a licentious person.
As per the law of the state every marriage is solemnized under a marriage license issued by a clerk of the county commission in accordance with the provisions of this article. If a ceremony of marriage is performed without a license, the attempted marriage is void, and the parties do not attain the legal status of husband and wife.
The following are required to obtain a valid marriage license:
Obtaining a marriage license
A license for marriage in Virginia is issued by the clerk or his/her deputy clerk of a circuit court in any county or city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The ceremony may be performed anywhere in the State.
Applicants must, under oath, furnish information required to complete the marriage record. These items are material and the applicant may be subject to prosecution for perjury for violation of the portion of the statutes which requires this information. For divorced persons, there is no statutory waiting period before marriage after the divorce is granted unless remarriage is specifically prohibited by a court.
In some cases, clerks may require documentary proof of age or termination of previous marriage.
Filing of application for marriage license
If one or both of the applicants are residents of this state, they may apply for a marriage license to be issued by the clerk of the county commission of the county in which a resident applicant usually resides. If both parties are nonresidents of this state, they may apply for a license to be issued by the clerk of the county commission in any county in this state.
Applications for licenses may be received and licenses may be issued by the clerk of the county commission when the office of the clerk is officially open for the conduct of business.
Proof of age
At the time of the execution of the application, the clerk or the person administering the oath to the applicants shall require evidence of the age of each of the applicants. Evidence of age may be as follows:
- A certified copy of a birth certificate or a duplicate certificate produced by any means that accurately reproduces the original;
- A voter's registration certificate;
- An operator's or chauffeur's license;
- The affidavit of both parents or the legal guardian of the applicant; or
- Other good and sufficient evidence.
The marriage must be performed within sixty (60) days after the license is issued. There is no waiting period required between application and issuance of the license and a couple may be married immediately after the issuance of a license.
A fee of $30 is charged by the clerk of court for issuing a marriage license. Any person authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage shall be permitted to charge a fee not to exceed $30 for each ceremony.
Virginia issued license
The marriage license issued in Virginia is for marriages to be performed in the State of West Virginia.
Marriages performed outside of Virginia
Marriages performed outside of West Virginia are filed in the state or country in which the marriage was performed. You must contact the state or country you were married in to obtain a copy of the marriage record.
If either or both of the applicants for a marriage license is under eighteen years of age, the clerk of the county commission may not issue a marriage license until two full days elapse after the day the license application is filed.
Both female and male parties to a contemplated marriage are required to sign the application for a marriage license, under oath.
The application must be signed before the clerk of the county commission or another person authorized to administer oaths under the laws of this state.
Age of consent
The age of consent for marriage for both the male and the female is eighteen years of age. The clerk of the county commission may issue a marriage license to an applicant who is under the age of eighteen but sixteen years of age or older if the clerk obtains a valid written consent from the applicant's parents or legal guardian.
Upon order of a circuit judge, the clerk of the county commission may issue a marriage license to an applicant who is under the age of sixteen, if the clerk obtains a valid written consent from the applicant's parents or legal guardian.
A circuit judge of the county in which the application for a marriage license is filed may order the clerk of the county commission to issue a license to an applicant under the age of sixteen if, in the court's discretion, the issuance of a license is in the best interest of the applicant and if consent is given by the parents or guardian.
Consent to marry must be duly acknowledged before an officer authorized to acknowledge a deed. If the parents are living together at the time the application for a marriage license is made and the consent is given, the signatures of both parents or the applicant's legal guardian is required. If one parent is dead, the signature of the surviving parent or the applicant's legal guardian is required. If both parents are dead, the signature of the applicant's legal guardian is required. If the parents of the applicant are living separate and apart, the signature of the parent having custody of the applicant or the applicant's legal guardian is required.
REGISTER OF MARRIAGES
The clerk of the county commission is required to maintain a suitable book to be used as a register of marriages. The clerk shall keep a complete record of the following information:
- Factual information that relates to the eligibility of a person to obtain a marriage license: If the license is issued because the female is pregnant, the pregnancy will not be noted by the clerk in the register of marriages;
- Each marriage license issued by the clerk; and
- An endorsement by a minister, priest, rabbi, or judge certifying that the marriage was solemnized.
PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM MARRIAGES
A religious representative who has complied a family court judge, a circuit judge or a justice of the Supreme Court of appeals, is authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage in any county of this state. Celebration or solemnization of a marriage means the performance of the formal act or ceremony by which a man and woman contract marriage and assume the status of husband and wife.
For purposes of this chapter, the term "religious representative" means a minister, priest or rabbi and includes, without being limited to, a leader or representative of a generally recognized spiritual assembly, church or religious organization which does not formally designate or recognize persons as ministers, priests or rabbis.
SOLEMNIZATION OF MARRIAGE
- A minister of any religious denomination must be authorized by a circuit court to celebrate the rites of matrimony. To obtain such authorization, the minister must produce proof of his ordination and regular communion with the religious society of which he is a reputed member. In addition, the court in each city and county has appointed persons who are eligible to perform civil marriage ceremonies. For marriages between persons belonging to any religious society which has no ordained minister, refer to Section 20-26, Code of Virginia, Domestic Relations.
- Witnesses - There is no statutory requirement that witnesses be present at the marriage ceremony.
- Marriage Record - The minister or other person officiating at the marriage must complete and sign the Marriage Register and the Marriage Return and forward both forms to the clerk of the court who issued the license within five (5) days after the ceremony is performed. The Marriage Return is forwarded by the clerk of the court to the State Division of Vital Records. In addition to the forms to be returned to the clerk, the officiate may also prepared a certificate to be given to the newly married couple.
RETURN OF LICENSES
The person solemnizing a marriage shall retain the marriage license and place an endorsement on it establishing the fact of the marriage and the time and place it was celebrated.
Before the sixth day of the month after the month in which the marriage was celebrated, the person who solemnized the marriage shall forward the original of the marriage license to the clerk who issued the license.
In the event that the marriage authorized by the license is not solemnized within sixty days from the date of its issuance, then the license is null and void. If the county clerk has not received the original license within sixty days after the expiration date on the license, the clerk shall notify each of the applicants of that fact, by certified mail, return receipt requested.