You’re Getting Married: What are the Legal Requirements?

By: John Whitbeck


Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Virginia 

Some people assume the legal requirements for getting married are confusing, but as long as you research what is required in the respective state, it’s pretty straight forward. Speaking with an attorney before getting married is not something that many people consider, but they should. Meeting with an experienced Virginia family law attorney can help you understand the legal consequences of getting married. You may want to have a prenuptial agreement drafted or need to start thinking about your estate planning needs. Also, you want to make sure you follow all the laws to ensure your marriage is legal and, therefore, binding for rights and benefits.   

What’s Required in Virginia for a Valid Marriage?   

To start, you must have a valid marriage license when the ceremony is performed. In order to get your marriage license, you and your fiancé are required to sign an application that you obtain from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the city or county where one of you resides. There is a license fee that you will need to pay.   

Once you have the license, your wedding must take place within 60 days. Only someone with a certain authority can perform the ceremony, such as a judge, qualified minister, or someone appointed by the court. If your wedding is performed by someone who doesn’t fit the criteria, your marriage will not be legally recognized.   

Who Can Legally Marry?   

While you might assume you are free to marry whoever you want, there are some rules and laws on who can and cannot marry. If you marry someone under circumstances that are against the law, your marriage will be void. Anyone who has been married before must show proof of a valid divorce before entering into another marriage.   

Both potential spouses must be at least 16 years old; however, if either party is under 18, consent by a parent or legal guardian is required.  

You cannot legally marry someone who is a relative that is closer to you than a cousin, even if you are only related by half-blood. You are prohibited from marrying someone who is a step- or adopted sister, brother, parent, or child. This is applicable even if the step-relationship is from a previous marriage.   

There are topics you and your spouse should discuss to ensure there is no reason for the marriage to become voidable down the line. Some of these include:   

  • Felony convictions   
  • Impotence 
  • If you have a child with another person   

If you are considering getting married, take the time to speak to a knowledgeable Virginia family law attorney who can help you prepare for this major life change. There are many things to consider with marriage, and it may be in your best interest to consider a prenuptial agreement. If you are already married, there are options for postnuptial agreements as well. 

If you have questions about the legal process or need assistance with your marriage, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or by emailing clientservices@wblaws.com.


Related: Family Law