As discussed in another post on this blog, the state of Tennessee does not recognize common law marriages. The state has set forth several specific formal requirements in order to validate a marriage. Those requirements are broadly split into licensure and solemnization.
The first requirement for marriage is a valid marriage license. The application must include basic information, such as names, ages, addresses, and social security numbers of the parties to be married, as well as the names of their parents or guardians. After a valid license has been issued, there must be at least three days before the marriage can be finalized, and notice must be given to the parents or guardians if either party is underage. The waiting period can be waived for good cause by a judge, county executive, or county clerk.
A clerk is prohibited from issuing a license for any marriage against the policy of the state (bigamous, incestuous, or homosexual) or to anyone who appears to be drunk, insane, or an imbecile. If the clerk does issue a license to a person who appears to be drunk, insane, or an imbecile, the marriage is voidable but is not automatically void.
After the marriage ceremony, discussed below, the license must be returned to the clerk for filing. There is no longer a requirement for medical testing before marriage in the state of Tennessee.
The second requirement for marriage is solemnization – the marriage must be solemnized by someone authorized to do so. Authorized parties include all ministers and rabbis over the age of 18, all county executives, judges, chancellors, former judges or chancellors, former executives, the state governor, the current or former speaker of the senate or house of representatives, the county clerks, and municipal mayors. Quaker marriages do not require an officiant.
There is no particular procedure for marriage solemnization outlined in the state laws, but the parties must directly declare each other as husband and wife.
If you have questions or concerns about the validity of a current or upcoming marriage, you should consult an attorney. For more information on marriage and other family law issues, click here.