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Washington Court Records

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Washington Marriage Records

Washington marriage records provide official information on all marriage applications and events filed across the Evergreen State. Generally, these documents provide the following details:

  • The full birth names of both parties. 
  • The bride's full name before the marriage event. 
  • Date and location of the marriage registration and certification. 
  • Name of the officiating minister.
  • Names of witnesses at the wedding

Washington marriage records may be found on microfilm, online, or in physical files. Records may be kept by state agencies, such as the Washington Department of Health, or by local governments, such as the county auditor. They are also considered a part of Washington Family Court Records.

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Washington

In Washington, members of the public have access to many types of marriage records, such as marriage licenses and certificates.

Washington Marriage Certificate:

A marriage certificate is an official document that documents the date two people married. Such records are created after a couple has obtained a marriage license and completed the wedding ceremony. After the wedding, the officiant, spouses, and witnesses sign the certificate, which is then returned to the county Auditor's office. Certified copies of such documents are accepted as proof of marriage and issued by the state.  The Washington Department of Health provides certified copies of a marriage record (or marriage certificates) for events that occured after 1968.

Washington Marriage License:

A Washington marriage license is a document issued by the county auditors granting the named persons the right to marry within the state. Marriage licenses must be obtained before a wedding. Licenses remain valid for a fixed period, during which intending couples must have a wedding ceremony. If the license expires before the wedding ceremony, both parties must apply and pay for a new one. 

Are Washington Marriage Records Public?

Washington marriage records fall under the umbrella of public records and can be obtained by almost anyone as long as they provide the necessary information. However, records are maintained by different departments, depending on the age of the records. Records created before 1968 can be found by contacting the Washington State Archives, while records created after 1968 are filed with the Washington Department of Health. Residents who wish to obtain copies of marriage records created within the last three months can contact the county auditor's office where the clerk was filed.

How to Find Marriage Records in Washington

Certified copies of a marriage record may be required for various reasons, ranging from changing a name after marriage to applying for military benefits. Anyone can find marriage records in Washington using the following general steps.

Step 1. Determine when the Marriage Occurred

Multiple agencies maintain marriage records, depending on when the creation date and record type. For example, records of marriages created within the last two months can be found in the county auditor's office where the license was issued, while certified copies of records older than a year can be found with the Washington Department of Health. To get details of marriages filed more than 60 years ago, record seekers will need to contact the Washington State Archives. The office maintains five archive branches around the state.

Step 2. Collect the Necessary Information 

Anyone may obtain copies of a marriage record as long as they can provide the necessary information. To access Washington marriage records, you must include:

  • The full name of the persons on record (first, middle, and last)
  • The approximate date of when the marriage occurred (month, day, and year)
  • The county where the license was obtained

Step 3.  Submit Application and PayFee

The Department of Health provides different options for submitting record requests. Applicants can submit completed applications in person, online, or by mail. For the last, completed applications should be sent to the:

Department of Health
Center for Health Statistics
P.O. Box 47814
Olympia, WA 98504-7814

Note: Applications must include the number of copies requested and the requester's name and residential address. You'll also be expected to pay the fee to obtain copies. 

How to Get a Marriage License in Washington

Couples who wish to marry in Washington can apply for a marriage license from the Office of the County Auditor. While the application process may differ slightly in each county, the following is a general guide to getting a marriage license in Washington.

Step 1. Meet the State Eligibility Rules

Couples who wish to get a marriage license in Washington must meet the minimum age requirement. Applicants can apply for a license if they are at least 17. However, parties who are not yet 18 will require parental consent. In addition, both parties must be unrelated and willing to marry.

Step 2. Book an appointment with the local county office. Ensure you have the appropriate documents. Most offices will require the following documents.

  • A valid photo ID such as a passport, driver's license, or state ID. 
  • Birth certificates from both parties to confirm that applicants are old enough to marry. 
  • Proposed date of marriage 
  • Social security number

Step 3.  Visit the office and Apply for a License

County auditors typically require that couples appear in person together when applying for a license. However, depending on the county, couples who are unable to do so may still be able to apply by submitting a notarized application online. Applicants must also pay the license fee, which averages $2. Acceptable payment options may include checks or money orders for mail applications. Once issued, licenses have a three-day waiting period before couples can marry. If a license is issued on Monday, couples must wait until Thursday before they can marry. Licenses remain valid for 60 days.

Note: Marriage license applications are considered public records. As such, applications may sometimes be published in local newspapers.

Who can Obtain Marriage Records in Washington?

Anyone may obtain copies of a marriage record in Washington by submitting a request to the Washington State Department of Health. Applicants do not need to provide a valid ID when obtaining records. In addition, unlike some US states where requesters must be related to the named parties,  the Washington DOH does not require that records seekers provide proof of relationship to the subject. 

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Washington

Members of the public may be able to access online marriage records for free. Public marriage indexes, such as those maintained by the Washington State Archives, offer a vast array of information, and individuals can search these indexes by the spouse's first or last name and the county where the marriage occurred.

Searchers may also be able to find free marriage records online using third-party registers or platforms. Operating as private entities independent of the Washington state government or any official agency, such sites provide access to records compiled from multiple jurisdictions across the state. Access to some records may require essential information, such as the subject's name or marriage location.

Is Washington a Common Law State for Marriage?

Washington does not recognize common law marriages formed within the state. Couples who live together and behave married are still considered unmarried unless they obtain a marriage license and hold a wedding ceremony. However, Washington acknowledges the legality of common law unions formed in states where such marriages are permitted.

Common law marriages refer to civil unions between two people who are considered legally married even though they did not have a wedding ceremony or obtain a license. Such marriages are fully or partially recognized in several US states, including Colorado, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island. To establish a common law marriage in such states, both parties need to meet some state requirements, which typically include:

  • The couple must be living together.
  • Both parties must be old enough to get married.
  • Neither party must be in another relationship that could be considered a marriage.
  • Both parties must act as if married to friends, family members, and the general community. 

Committed Intimate Relationships in Washington

Although common law marriages are not authorized in Washington, the state allows and recognizes committed personal relationships. Committed Intimate Relationships develop when the court grants two unmarried and cohabiting parties some financial and property rights. This decision is made based on the merits of each case.

Generally, the court considers various factors when deciding whether a relationship qualifies as a CIR. Some of these include:

  • The duration of the partnership
  • The goal and intention of the partnership
  • The exclusive nature of the relationship
  • Are there any domestic partnership agreements?
  • The joint utilization of resources and cash by both parties

Note: Couples in a CIR do not have all the benefits of a married couple. For instance, couples are not entitled to spousal support or tax benefits.

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