Common-law marriage has diverse names, from "marriage in fact", "marriage by repute and habit", "informal…
Where to Apply
Where can I get a marriage license?
To get married in South Carolina, first apply for a marriage license at any probate court. The probate judge or clerk will process your application.
How does my residency affect getting a license?
Your county residency only affects the license fee, not where you can apply or marry.
How much is a marriage license?
A South Carolina marriage license costs between $30 and $100. The fee varies by county and residency. Most applicants pay about $50.
Where can I use my license?
Your marriage license can be used anywhere in South Carolina, but only in South Carolina.
What information do I have to fill out?
The marriage license application will ask for your name, birth surname, birthdate, birthplace, race, sex, residence, total prior marriages, and social security number or alien identification number.
What if I can't apply in person?
You and your prospective spouse must apply together in person. Applying absentee is not an option.
How old must I be to marry?
Aged 18 and over?
If you're at least 18 years old and mentally competent, you can marry without parental consent.
Aged 16 and 17?
If you're 16 or 17 years old, you can marry with the consent of a custodial parent or guardian. Consent can be granted in person or by sworn affidavit.
Aged 15 and under?
If you're below the age of 15, you can't marry, except in cases of pregnancy.
Update: On December 12, 2018, State Senator Katrina Shealy (R) introduced Senate Bill S0196, which would outlaw marriage below the age of 16.
Is there a pregnancy exception?
State law allows a female below the age of 18 to marry without parental consent if she's pregnant or have given birth to a child. The biological father also doesn't need parental consent. Pregnancy or prior birth must be proven with a certificate or report from a licensed physician.
Update: On December 18, 2018, South Carolina House Representatives Beth Bernstein, Neal Collins, and Shannon Erickson pre-filed House Bill 3369, which would rescind the pregnancy exception provision that allows minors to marry.
What's the benefit of taking a premarital preparation course?
Complete a 6-hour premarital preparation course within a year before marriage to get a one-time $50 state income tax credit. The course must be taken together. The tax credit will be split 50/50. Show your certificate of completion when applying to have your license properly notated.
When will I get my license?
Your marriage license will be ready for pick up 24 hours after filing your application. Remember, most probate courts are closed weekends.
Can the waiting period be waived?
The mandatory 24-hour wait can't be waived, nor will a license be issued in advance showing tomorrow's "effective" date.
How long will my marriage license last?
South Carolina marriage licenses do not expire, which is a rarity among states.
What ID should I bring?
ID for adults?
If you're at least 18 years old, bring valid government-issued photo ID that verifies your age.
ID for minors?
In addition to showing photo ID, minors must surrender an original or certified copy of their birth, baptismal, or hospital certificate.
ID for parental consent?
The consenting parent must bring ID. If divorced, bring a certified copy of the divorce decree proving custody. Guardians, bring ID and proof of guardianship.
Do I have to bring my social security card?
Some probate courts will ask to see your social security card or another document containing your social security number.
Do I have to get a blood test?
You don't have to get a premarital blood test. However, you'll be given information on family planning.
What if I'm divorced?
Some probate courts will ask to see a certified copy of your divorce decree, especially if divorced within the past year.
What if I'm a widow or widower?
Widows and widowers don't need to bring their late spouse's death certificate.
How do I change my name because of marriage?
Changing your name after marriage in South Carolina isn't automatic. The name change process utilizes your marriage certificate to authorize various federal and state organizations to honor your request. They must be alerted individually, starting with the Social Security Administration.
Do I need to bring witnesses?
Witnesses aren't required to attend your marriage ceremony.
Who can solemnize my marriage?
You can be married by a minister of the gospel, rabbi, notary public, official authorized to administer oaths, or leader of a state-recognized Indian entity.
Can we hold a self-solemnized ceremony?
You and your prospective spouse can't act as your own officiant. A third-party must be involved.
Can I get married in a civil ceremony?
Some probate courts provide civil ceremony services by appointment for roughly $20.
When does the license need to back?
Your marriage license must be returned to the issuing probate court for recording and indexing within 15 days after the ceremony.
How do I get a copy of my marriage certificate?
Probate courts sell certified marriage certificate copies for about $5, but only for marriage licenses their office issued. The state's vital records office also sells them for $12, but only spanning July 1950 to December 2014.
Can I get married by proxy?
You can't get married by proxy by using a stand-in to represent you. Physical attendance of your ceremony is mandatory.
Can I marry if I'm not divorced?
Marriage without first divorcing is allowed if your spouse has abandoned you for the past five years and their whereabouts is unknown.
Can I marry my cousin?
You can indeed marry your first cousin.
Is marriage among certain family members permitted?
You can't marry a descendant, ascendant, sibling, stepsibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. Cousins are ok though.
Can I obtain a common-law marriage?
South Carolina still recognizes and permits common-law marriage. The minimum age of entry is 16.