Law and the Family

What are the legal requirements to marry in Pennsylvania?

A marriage license will not be issued if either of the applicants is under the age of eighteen (18) years unless the consent of a parent or guardian is given to the Clerk of the Orphans' Court or is certified under the signature of a parent or guardian attested to by two (2) adult witnesses. No license to marry may be issued if either of the applicants is weak minded, or insane, or has been, within five (5) years preceding the time of the application, an inmate of an institution for weak minded or insane persons or is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug. The marriage does not require any particular form of solemnization, but must in all cases be evidenced by words in the present tense uttered for the purpose of establishing the relation of spouse.

Common law marriages are recognized under Pennsylvania law where proof of same is established to the satisfaction of the court. Generally, common law marriages are extremely difficult to prove, and if you wish to be certain that your marriage is recognized it should be solemnized before a religious official or a public official authorized to solemnize a marriage under Pennsylvania law after having obtained a duly issued marriage license. A common law marriage is one where the parties agree in the present tense to be spouses, or where the parties have held themselves out to the community as spouses, without the benefit of an actual ceremony before an individual authorized to solemnize the marriage.