Is a License Required to be Married Legally in Washington State?
"Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togethah today" as so eloquently spoken in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride.The question at hand, do you require a license to be legally officially married in the state of Washington?
I think everyone has heard of the idea of "common law marriage" but is it a real thing is Washington State? Harris Family Law-firm defines common law marriage as "parties cohabit with each other, have a mutual agreement to be married, and hold themselves out to be married (evidence of mutual agreement). You are not required to have a civil or religious ceremony, a marriage license, or a marriage certificate to have a common law marriage."
The practice originally came from England in the 1800's to define couples that had not had a ceremony or a license for multiple reasons. Early in the beginning of the United States it was used mainly because of the difficulty finding someone to execute the ceremony and the stigma with having children out of wedlock.
Are there places currently in the United States where common law marriages recognized? Turns out only a few states do, mainly because all the issues that caused problems in the past don't really exist today. The eight states that recognize common law marriage are Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Washington D.C. also recognizes them however D.C. is not a state.
Washington State does not recognize common law marriage but they do recognize Domestic Partnership. Basically any couple that fits the category of Domestic Partnership is protected and treated like a married couple in Washington State. They say "these partners must enjoy any benefit, right, immunity, or privilege legally granted to married persons under Washington law. However, all such provisions should not be in conflict with federal law."
To be married in Washington State you must complete 3 things. "1- Apply for and receive a marriage license. 2- Participate in a civil or religious ceremony in Washington State. 3- Complete and return the Department of Health Certificate of Marriage". There is also a 3 day waiting period from when you purchase the license to when you can use it and a list of qualifications the couple must meet before a license will be issued.