Marriage license records are an essential resource of public information for future reference and studies. The most common examples of their use are in providing information on family history and genealogy studies, as official documents in legal proceedings such as divorce, identity and inheritance and checking up the marital background of prospective spouse or partner.
Going painstakingly through piles of hard copy archive, that was how to find marriage records in the past. It would take a great deal of skill, expertise and effort; that was basically why such undertakings were restricted mainly to investigation professionals and government officials. Things have changed. Nowadays, if you have a PC with internet access, that’s all it takes. With a few keystrokes, you can be getting all the information online within minutes.
Marriage records are public information. Along with the other 3 categories, namely divorce, birth and death, they form the principal vital records in most state departments tasked with this public service. The FOIA (Freedom of Information Act, 1966) stipulates the right of any individual to freely retrieve and view this information so long as procedures are followed.
Marriage record files typically contain general information such as personal particulars of the couple, their parents and witnesses. The name of the official who solemnized the marriage ceremony is usually stated also. Marriage license records are often the specific information that is being sought. They represent the legitimacy of the marriage in question and are a key document especially in legal proceedings.
There will usually be three copies of marriage license. They are distributed to the couple, solemnization official and the local government which is responsible for maintaining their files. Although the information on the marriage license is readily available online, only their certified hard-copies are recognized for official use. There may be variations on this practice from one state to another as public records fall under the jurisdiction of individual states.
How to find marriage records is easy nowadays. You can search at the government agency that’s designated with the function or you can purchase them from commercial providers. The former is of course more economical but if the purpose behind your search is of a serious or official nature, you’d be well-advised to turn to the latter. They are generally online, instant and multi-state.