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Minnesota Court Records

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Minnesota Marriage Records

Minnesota marriage records contain formal information about civil unions (marriages) registered in the North Star State. Under state statutes, county entities generally retain such files and papers. Some of the information that may be included in a marriage record include:

  • Name of the married parties
  • Date of the marriage
  • Name of the wedding officiant
  • Name of parents for both spouses
  • Location of the wedding

Marriage records are essential for a variety of reasons. Such records are necessary for any official process that requires proof of marriage. Examples include applying for spousal benefits, changing a name, or filing immigration documents for a partner. Genealogy researchers also rely on such records when tracing family histories. Marriage records are typically maintained and disseminated as part of Minnesota family court records.

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Minnesota

Local agencies in Minnesota maintain different types of marriage records, from consent papers and applications filed before a civil union to certificates created after a marriage. 

Minnesota Marriage Certificate:

A marriage certificate is an official document that shows two people were married in Minnesota. However, marriage certificates are created after a wedding, unlike marriage licenses, which are issued before a wedding. Certificates are then filed and maintained in the county where the license was issued. Minnesota marriage certificates remain valid for the entire duration of the marriage. 

Minnesota Marriage License:

A Minnesota marriage license is an official document issued by counties granting couples the right to marry. To qualify for a marriage license, applicants must meet several state requirements, such as being unrelated and old enough to marry. Couples must also pay an application fee.

It's worth noting that marriage licenses do not provide sufficient proof of marriage. Some couples remain unmarried even after obtaining a license. In addition, unlike marriage certificates, which remain valid for the duration of the marriage, marriage licenses are only valid for a set period, during which both parties must marry in a civil ceremony. If a license expires, couples must reapply (and pay) for a new one.

Are Minnesota Marriage Records Public?

Under Minnesota statutes, marriage records are considered public information, which means eligible persons can obtain them. However, unlike some US states, where a central state department maintains records, marriage records are maintained by county offices. To obtain copies of a record, members of the public must contact the local registrar in the county where the marriage license was issued.

How to Find Marriage Records in Minnesota

Persons who wish to obtain information on civil unions can find Minnesota marriage records by following several general steps.

Step 1.  Identify the County Where the License Was Issued

To find or obtain copies of a record, requesters must apply with the appropriate registrar's office. 

That's because, unlike some US states, Minnesota does not have a statewide record repository. Instead, marriage records are maintained by the registrar of the county where the married couple acquired their license.

Note: Records are not maintained in the county where the marriage occured but in the county where the couple applied for their license.

Step 2. Gather Relevant Information 

Applicants wishing to obtain marriage records must provide related details to assist with the search. Some of the required information may include:

  • The full legal name of both parties before marriage (first, middle, and last)
  • The date of marriage (if known)
  • A date range for less specific requests
  • City of application

Step 3. Submit the Application and pay the fee

Applications to obtain marriage records can be made in person at the county office. However, while most counties provide a downloadable application form to simplify this process, residents can also make applications online. In addition to some information about the records, applicants may also need to provide personal information such as their current address, mailing address, and relationship to the registrants. Requesters must also pay a non-refundable fee covering the search and one copy of a certified record. Acceptable forms of payment may include cash, personal checks, or money orders, depending on the application method. 

How to Get a Marriage License in Minnesota

Eligible parties can obtain a marriage license by following several general steps.

Step 1. Meet Minnesota's Marriage Requirements

Marriage licenses are issued in accordance with state laws. To qualify for a marriage license in Minnesota, both parties must meet the following state requirements:

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Applicants between the ages of 16 and 18 must have parental consent. 
  • Applicants must be unrelated.
  • Applicants must be single and not already in a marriage.

Step 2. Provide Necessary Information

Both parties must provide the following information to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota. 

  • Full legal name (first, middle, and last name(
  • Date and place of birth
  • Address as at time of application (city and state)
  • Social security number
  • Details of any previous marriages
  • Mailing address

Persons previously married may need to provide additional documents proving they can marry, such as copies of a court annulment or divorce decree.

Step 3. Submit the Application and Pay the License Fee

The county clerk processes applications for marriage licenses. Although counties generally require that both parties be present when applying, most counties provide printable forms so applicants can begin the process before visiting the office.

Applicants must also pay the appropriate fee, ranging from $115 for couples who have not completed any premarital education to $40 for applicants who have completed the education. To qualify for a reduced fee, applicants must provide a signed statement from the educator certifying that both parties completed the education.

Note: Someone authorized to solemnize marriages must have provided premarital education. 

Who can Obtain Marriage Records in Minnesota?

Anyone can obtain marriage records in Minnesota. Marriage records fall under the umbrella of open records and are accessible to the general public. However, some information on a record may be restricted from public access. For instance, while general marriage details such as the name of parties on a record may be open, protected information such as the social security number submitted during a license application remains confidential. 

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Minnesota

Residents and non-residents can search for free online marriage records using the Minnesota Official Marriage System. However, requesters will need to pay a fee to obtain copies of any record.  Free records may also be available on some county platforms.

Alternatively, interested persons can look up some marriage records for free using third-party platforms. Operating as private entities independent of the Minnesota 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 Minnesota a Common Law State for Marriage?

Minnesota is not a common-law marriage state. Couples who wish to have marital rights and privileges must obtain a marriage license and marry in a civil ceremony led by an authorized officiant. However, although Minnesota does not permit the creation of common-law marriages within its borders, it recognizes the validity of common-law marriages created in states that allow this type of union.

Common law marriages refer to civil unions where couples are viewed as legally married even without obtaining a marriage license or wedding ceremony. Such unions are fully or partially permitted in several US states, including Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. To be considered married in such states, couples must meet several general requirements, such as living together for a set period, acting as a couple, and holding out as married to friends and family.

Couples who wish to enter into a relationship without getting married may be able to do so by registering a domestic partnership. Such relationships are allowed in some Minnesota jurisdictions, such as the City of Minneapolis.

  • To become domestic partners, both parties must:
  • Be single and unrelated by marriage
  • Be unrelated by blood 
  • Have no other existing civil union or domestic partner
  • Indicate their willingness to be domestic partners

Alternatively, couples can create enforceable rights by becoming joint signatories to a cohabitation agreement. However, such relationships do not provide all the rights and privileges available to married couples.

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