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?
You can get a Wisconsin marriage license at the county clerk's office, but your residency decides which county you can apply and marry in.
How much does a marriage license cost?
A Wisconsin marriage license costs between $50 and $120, with $75 being the most common figure across counties.
How does my residency factor into applying?
Your residency—which is where you've lived the past 30 days—determines where you can apply and marry.
One of you is a Wisconsin resident?
If either you or your future spouse is a Wisconsin resident, apply for a marriage license in the county of either's residence.
Neither is a Wisconsin resident?
If neither of you live in Wisconsin, apply in the county where the marriage will take place.
Where can I use my marriage license?
If either of you is a Wisconsin resident, you can marry anywhere in the state. If neither of you are residents, marry in the county where you obtain your license.
What will the application ask of me?
The application will ask for your name, birth surname, residence, date and place of birth, social security number, ceremony date and location, officiant's contact information, and parents' names, birth surnames, and birthplaces.
Are foreign documents accepted?
Any non-English document or certificate you present must have a certified and notarized third-party translation.
What if I can't apply in person?
You and your future spouse must apply together in person. Applying absentee or by proxy is prohibited.
What if either of us can't speak English?
If either you or your fiancé can't speak English, bring a translator. You cannot translate for each other.
How old must I be to marry?
Aged 18 and over?
If you're at least 18 years old, you don't need parental consent to marry.
Aged 16 and 17?
If you're 16 or 17 years old, whoever has custodial authority over you must consent to your marriage. Custodial authority goes by the following order: guardian, both parents, custodial parent, custodial agency, or probate judge.
Aged 15 and under?
Fifteen year olds and younger can't legally marry.
How can consent be granted?
Consent can be granted before the county clerk or using a notarized affidavit consent form. Consent forms are available at the clerk's office.
How soon will I receive my marriage license?
You must wait five days after you submit your application to pick up your marriage license. For instance, apply Friday to pick up and marry on Wednesday.
Can the waiting period be waived?
The county clerk can waive the waiting period for $25. It's $10 for active duty military.
When will my marriage license lapse?
Your marriage license will expire 30 days after issuance.
What ID must I bring?
You must bring documents to prove your age, identity, and residency.
How to prove age?
Bring a certified copy of your birth certificate with raised seal. This applies to adults and minors.
How to prove identity?
Bring government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, passport, state-issued ID card, military ID card, or immigration papers.
How to prove residency?
If your photo ID doesn't show your current residential address, show mail that does, such as a bank, credit card, insurance, lease, medical, or utility statement.
Do I need to bring my social security card?
You do not have to bring your social security card. Just know your social security number if you have one.
Do I have to undergo a blood test?
You're not required to get a blood test before marriage. However, you'll be given information on fetal alcohol syndrome and how pregnancy is affected by cocaine use and other illicit drugs.
What if I'm divorced?
You can't marry within six months of divorce. Otherwise, bring a certified copy of your divorce decree or court annulment papers.
Can the remarriage delay be waived?
The mandatory six month wait between divorce and remarriage can't be waived.
What if my prior spouse died?
If you're a widow or widower, bring a certified copy of the death certificate for your previous spouse.
How do I go about changing my name after marriage?
Changing your name due to marriage is straightforward when using your marriage certificate. You can use a marriage name change application to help prepare needed forms before or after you marry.
Are witnesses required at my ceremony?
You must have two competent witnesses aged 18 or over at your marriage ceremony. Afterward, they'll sign the marriage license. Although a maximum of four witness signatures is allowed, only two need to be competent legal adults.
Who can preside over our marriage?
A judge, or licensed or ordained member of any religious denomination may solemnize your marriage.
Can I have a civil ceremony?
County clerks don't perform civil marriages. You'll have to make arrangements with a court commissioner or judge of the circuit or municipal court.
Can we have a self-solemnized ceremony?
Wisconsin law allows you and your fiancé to preside over your own marriage ceremony. You'll be responsible for returning the marriage license.
When does my marriage license have to be sent back?
Within three days after your marriage ceremony, your marriage license must be delivered to the register of deeds for recording within the same county as the county clerk that issued the license.
How do I get a certified copy of my marriage certificate?
You can purchase a certified copy of your marriage certificate for $20 from either the register of deeds that recorded it or the state's vital records office.
Can I get married by proxy?
Wisconsin doesn't allow marriage by proxy. You must attend your marriage ceremony in the flesh.
Can I marry my cousin?
You can marry your first cousin if you're a female aged 55 or over, with a signed physician's affidavit that says you're permanently sterile.
Can I marry another relative?
Beyond the first cousin caveat above, you can't marry anyone closer to you than a second cousin, even if related by adoption.
Can I establish a common-law marriage?
Wisconsin doesn't recognize common-law marriage established in any jurisdiction.
Can I get a marriage license for a vow renewal?
Wisconsin law doesn't permit a marriage license to be issued for vow renewals.