Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 20. Domestic Relations
9/21/2020

Chapter 2. Marriage Generally.

§ 20-13. License and solemnization required.

Every marriage in this Commonwealth shall be under a license and solemnized in the manner herein provided.

Code 1919, § 5071.

§ 20-13.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1995, c. 355, cl. 2.

§ 20-14. By whom license to be issued.

Every license for a marriage shall be issued by the clerk or deputy clerk of a circuit court of any county or city. If from any cause neither the clerk nor his deputy is able to issue the license, it may be issued by the judge of the circuit court of such county, or city, who shall make return thereof to the clerk as soon as there may be one.

Code 1919, § 5072; 1924, p. 398; 1948, p. 107; 1968, c. 318; 1977, c. 102; 1995, c. 355.

§ 20-14.1. Duration of license; issuance of additional licenses.

Every marriage license issued under § 20-14 shall constitute authority for a period of only sixty days from the date of issuance for the solemnization of a marriage of the licensees. Whenever such sixty-day period shall have elapsed without the solemnization of a marriage of the licensees, the license shall expire.

The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prevent licensees from applying for or receiving an additional license, either before or after expiration of any license, but no new license shall be issued except in compliance with all provisions of law applicable to the issuance of a license in the first instance.

1958, c. 8; 1968, c. 318.

§ 20-14.2. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2012, c. 802, cl. 2.

§ 20-15. Tax on license.

On each marriage license issued under § 20-14 there is hereby levied a license tax of $20, which tax shall be collected by the clerk when the license is issued and accounted for as in the case of other state taxes collected by him. Ten dollars of this license tax shall be allocated to the Virginia Department of Social Services for the purpose of providing services to victims of domestic violence.

Code 1919, § 5072; 1924, p. 398; 1948, p. 107; 1975, c. 119; 1982, c. 305; 1993, c. 887; 2004, c. 375.

§ 20-16. Issuance of marriage licenses and marriage certificates.

The clerk issuing any marriage license shall require the parties contemplating marriage to state, under oath, the information required to complete the application for marriage license. The parties shall be able to designate themselves on the application for marriage license as spouse, bride, or groom. The clerk shall provide the parties with two copies of the marriage certificate to be completed by the marriage officiant, who shall return the completed certificates to the clerk after the marriage ceremony of the parties. The clerk shall retain one copy of the completed marriage certificate and provide the other copy to the State Registrar of Vital Records. The clerk may provide the parties with a commemorative marriage certificate and the parties may request a certified copy of the official marriage certificate as provided in Article 7 (§ 32.1-270 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 32.1. For the purposes of this section any statement made by such applicant, under oath, concerning the information to be entered on the application for marriage license is hereby declared to be a material matter or thing in any prosecution for perjury for any violation of this section.

Code 1919, § 5074; 1928, p. 314; 1938, p. 151; 1968, c. 318; 2015, c. 708.

§ 20-16.1. Clerk authorized to amend marriage records.

The clerk (i) may, on his own authority, correct marriage records established in his office by amending the same upon application under oath and submission of evidence deemed by the clerk to be adequate and sufficient and (ii) shall correct such records upon order of the court in which the marriage record was established. Upon correction of a marriage record the clerk shall forward to the State Registrar a certified copy of the corrected marriage record.

1988, c. 54.

§ 20-17. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1968, c. 318.

§ 20-20. Clerk to file license and certificate; indexing names of parties; certified copies as evidence.

The clerk to whom the license and certificate are returned, shall file and preserve the original in his office, and make an index of the names of both of the parties married.

When the certificates of such person celebrating such marriage are returned to the clerk, and recorded as provided in this section and § 32.1-267, copies of the same properly certified by the clerk lawfully having the custody thereof or properly certified by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein set forth in all courts of this Commonwealth.

Code 1919, §§ 5074, 5076; 1928, p. 315; 1938, p. 152; 1968, c. 318.

§ 20-21. Clerk to furnish attorney for the Commonwealth list of licenses not returned by minister.

It shall be the duty of every clerk issuing marriage licenses no later than March 31 of each year to furnish to the attorney for the Commonwealth of his county or city a list of all marriage licenses issued during the preceding calendar year that have not been returned by the minister or other person celebrating the marriage.

Code 1919, § 5074; 1928, p. 314; 1938, p. 151; 2000, cc. 31, 214.

§ 20-22. Attorney for the Commonwealth to ascertain before circuit court name of minister failing to return certificates.

It shall be the duty of the attorney for the Commonwealth for each county and city, upon the receipt from the clerk of the list required by § 20-21, to have such person or persons as he may think proper summoned before the circuit court of his county or city to ascertain the name of the minister or other person celebrating such marriage and failing to return the license and certificates to the clerk as required by § 32.1-267.

Code 1919, § 5074; 1928, p. 314; 1938, p. 151; 1979, c. 502.

§ 20-23. Order authorizing ministers to perform ceremony.

When a minister of any religious denomination produces before the circuit court of any county or city in the Commonwealth, or before the judge of such court or before the clerk of such court at any time, proof of his ordination and of his being in regular communion with the religious society of which he is a reputed member, or proof that he is commissioned to pastoral ministry or holds a local minister's license and is serving as a regularly appointed pastor in his denomination, such court, or the judge thereof, or the clerk of such court at any time, may make an order authorizing such minister to celebrate the rites of matrimony in the Commonwealth. Any order made under this section may be rescinded at any time by the court or by the judge thereof. No oath shall be required of a minister authorized to celebrate the rites of matrimony, nor shall such minister be considered an officer of the Commonwealth by virtue of such authorization.

Code 1919, §§ 5079, 5080; 1962, c. 362; 1980, c. 154; 1981, c. 295; 2012, c. 565; 2016, c. 611.

§ 20-24. Penalty for failure to certify record of marriage.

If any minister, authorized to celebrate rites of marriage under § 20-23, shall fail to comply with § 32.1-267, he shall be subject to forfeit twenty-five dollars.

Code 1919, § 5093; 1979, c. 502; 1981, c. 298.

§ 20-25. Persons other than ministers who may perform rites.

Upon petition filed with the clerk and payment of applicable clerk's fees, any circuit court judge may issue an order authorizing one or more persons resident in the circuit in which the judge sits to celebrate the rites of marriage in the Commonwealth. Any person so authorized shall, before acting, enter into bond in the penalty of $500, with or without surety, as the court may direct. Any order made under this section may be rescinded at any time. No oath shall be required of a person authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage, nor shall such person be considered an officer of the Commonwealth by virtue of such authorization.

Any judge or justice of a court of record, any judge of a district court, any retired judge or justice of the Commonwealth, and any active, senior, or retired federal judge or justice who is a resident of the Commonwealth may celebrate the rites of marriage anywhere in the Commonwealth without the necessity of bond or order of authorization.

Code 1919, § 5080; 1938, c. 152; 1981, c. 295; 1981, Sp. Sess., c. 15; 1983, c. 64; 1985, c. 195; 1987, c. 149; 2003, c. 228; 2004, cc. 612, 680; 2012, c. 802; 2016, c. 611.

§ 20-26. Marriage between members of religious society having no minister.

Marriages between persons belonging to any religious society which has no ordained minister, may be solemnized by the persons and in the manner prescribed by and practiced in any such society. One person chosen by the society shall be responsible for completing the certification of marriage in the same manner as a minister or other person authorized to perform marriages; such person chosen by the society for this purpose shall be required to execute a bond in the penalty of $500, with surety. No oath shall be required of a person authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage, nor shall such person be considered an officer of the Commonwealth by virtue of such authorization.

Code 1919, § 5081; 1968, c. 318; 1981, c. 295; 2016, c. 611.

§ 20-27. Fee for celebrating marriage.

Any person authorized under § 20-25 to celebrate the rites of marriage shall be permitted to charge the parties a fee for the ceremony not to exceed $75 for each ceremony. Such person and parties may negotiate payment for any additional services agreed to by the celebrant and the parties. Additionally, such person shall be permitted to charge the parties travel expenses to and from the marriage site. If conveyance is by public transportation, reimbursement shall be at the actual cost thereof. If conveyance is by private transportation, reimbursement shall be at the rate specified in the current general appropriations act of the Commonwealth. In either event, the actual cost of the ceremony together with travel expenses shall be given to the parties at least three days prior to the marriage ceremony.

Code 1919, § 5083; 1970, c. 362; 1975, c. 644; 1993, cc. 941, 966; 2006, c. 625; 2014, c. 529; 2020, c. 181.

§ 20-28. Penalty for celebrating marriage without license.

If any person knowingly perform the ceremony of marriage without lawful license, or officiate in celebrating the rites of marriage without being authorized by law to do so, he shall be confined in jail not exceeding one year, and fined not exceeding $500.

Code 1919, § 4542.

§ 20-29. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1975, c. 644.

§ 20-30. Licenses of persons on federal reservations.

The clerks of the circuit courts of any counties or their deputies and the clerks of the circuit courts of any cities or their deputies are authorized to issue marriage licenses in conformity with the law now governing the same, to any persons desiring to be married on any of the government reservations of this Commonwealth, lying within their respective counties and which reservations were before the acquisition thereof part of the political territory of this Commonwealth, and any marriage ceremony performed on such reservations shall be as legal to all intents and purposes as if performed in any county or city of the Commonwealth, if the person performing the ceremony was qualified to so act.

All marriages heretofore solemnized within the limits of any such reservations are hereby ratified and legalized to all intents and purposes as if performed in any county or city of the Commonwealth.

1930, p. 701; Michie Code 1942, § 5077a.

§ 20-31. Belief of parties in lawful marriage validates certain defects.

No marriage solemnized under a license issued in this Commonwealth by any person professing to be authorized to solemnize the same shall be deemed or adjudged to be void, nor shall the validity thereof be in any way affected on account of any want of authority in such person, or any defect, omission or imperfection in such license, if the marriage be in all other respects lawful, and be consummated with a full belief on the part of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been lawfully joined in marriage.

Code 1919, § 5082.

§ 20-31.1. When marriage legitimates children; issue of marriages prohibited by law, etc., legitimate.

If a person, having had a child, shall afterwards intermarry with the mother or father, such child if recognized by both of them, as their own child, jointly or separately, before or after marriage, shall be deemed legitimate.

The issue of marriages prohibited by law, deemed null or void or dissolved by a court shall nevertheless be legitimate.

1978, c. 647.

§ 20-32. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2010, c. 352, cl. 2.

§ 20-33. Penalty for clerk issuing license contrary to law.

If any clerk of a court knowingly issue a marriage license contrary to law, he shall be confined in jail not exceeding one year, and fined not exceeding $500.

Code 1919, § 4541.

§ 20-34. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1968, c. 318.

§ 20-37. Validation of certain marriages when license issued by clerk of county court.

All marriages of females residing within jurisdiction of a corporation court, which were solemnized prior to February 1, 1904, by virtue of a license issued by the clerk of the court of the county wherein a city was or is situated, shall be as valid as if such license had been issued by the clerk of such corporation court.

Code 1919, § 5073.

§ 20-37.1. Validation of certain marriages solemnized outside of Commonwealth.

All marriages heretofore solemnized outside this Commonwealth by a minister authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage in this Commonwealth, under a license issued in this Commonwealth, and showing on the application therefor the place out of this Commonwealth where said marriage is to be performed, shall be valid as if such marriage had been performed in this Commonwealth.

1952, c. 133.

§ 20-37.2. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1977, c. 624.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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