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Questions about Civil Marriage Laws

What is a civil marriage?

A civil marriage ceremony usually consist of couples who are not religious, some that have two different religions that want to bring both religions into the marriage, some even include couples that want to get married right away. It is usually a marriage performed by a government official instead of a religious organization or person. A civil marriage is as legally binding as a traditional or religious marriage. Since the ceremony is legally binding, it often leads to legal questions like the ones below.

If someone has a civil marriage overseas can they apply for a divorce in the US?

In most situations, if their current residency is in the US —meaning they have lived in the US longer than six months — then they can file for a divorce in the state that they are living in. To file for the divorce they can search for online divorce forms, or contact their local court house to assist them.

What are the civil marriage requirements if someone from another country wanted to marry in the state of California?

In most cases, they do not need to be residents of the state however, to marry in California there are some requirements that need to be followed:

They are not allowed to have someone stand-in for the party that is out of the country. Both parties must be physically present for the civil marriage.

Both parties need a valid picture identification to apply for a marriage license. Valid picture identification includes one that has a picture, date of birth and expiration date. Some may require a birth certificate. If either party was had a prior marriage, they may need to produce documentation to establish the date the last marriage ended, why it ended and often a divorce decree of the previous marriage.

Marriage licenses are typically valid for 90 days. If they are not married within the 90 day window, the license would expire and they would need to file for another marriage license.

In the state of Arizona is it legal to perform a religious ceremony if a prior legal civil marriage is not ended?

In order to be legally married in the state of Arizona, each individual in the couple must be legally divorced from their previous marriage, if there was a prior marriage. They can have a religious ceremony and then a civil marriage, but in order to be considered legally married and have rights as a married couple they must be divorced from any previous marriage that may have been in existence.

What does someone need in order to have a civil marriage Tijuana?

For a civil married in Tijuana each individual wanting to get married may need have the following things:
• Valid passport
• Birth certificates for both parties
• Divorce papers or death certificate from previous marriage, if they were married before
• A translator so that all the documents can be translated in to Spanish
• Blood test reports
• Tourist card or visa
• They must also have four witnesses, all containing identification, two witnesses for each spouse that is being married.

How would someone know if their civil marriage from Lebanon is registered in municipality in the state of Rhode Island?

If they were civilly married in Lebanon, then it would normally be registered there. If they subsequently moved to Rhode Island, the state would not know about the marriage nor would the state have a copy of it in their files. If the marriage was legal under the laws of Lebanon, then it would be valid in the United States, but the marriage is not automatically registered in the United States. You may need to produce documented proof of the marriage like the marriage license, marriage registration certificate, etc.

A civil marriage and its requirements can often be confusing. Some may just have an interest in a civil marriage, and others may just not quite understand what some of the laws may be. Laws can vary from state to state and it is always in your best interest to have a clear understanding of the legal implications in your jurisdiction and circumstances.
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