Marriage Law in Pennsylvania

Marriage Law in Pennsylvania.

This is the law that regulates marriage in the State of Pennsylvania. This law contains the requirements and prohibitions of marriage. The way you should perform the marriage in Pennsylvania.

 Who can marry and who are prohibited.

The terms and the persons authorized to celebrate marriages.


Title 23 - DOMESTIC RELATIONS


PART II


MARRIAGE


 


Chapter


11.  Preliminary Provisions


13.  Marriage License


15.  Marriage Ceremony


17.  Miscellaneous Provisions Relating to Marriage


19.  Abolition of Actions for Alienation of Affections and Breach of Promise to Marry


 


Enactment.  Part II was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.


1998 Partial Repeal.  Section 13 of Act 127 of 1998 provided that Part II is repealed insofar as it is inconsistent with 


Act 127.


 


 


CHAPTER 11


PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS


 


Sec.


1101.  Short title of part.


1102.  Definitions.


1103.  Common-law marriage.


1104.  Forms.


1105.  Fees.


1106.  Records and statistics.


 


Enactment.  Chapter 11 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.


§ 1101.  Short title of part.


This part shall be known and may be cited as the Marriage Law.


§ 1102.  Definitions.


The following words and phrases when used in this part shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the 


context clearly indicates otherwise:


"Department."  The Department of Health of the Commonwealth.


"Marriage."  A civil contract by which one man and one woman take each other for husband and wife.


"Marriage license" or "license."  A license to marry issued under this part.


(Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days)


 


1996 Amendment.  Act 124 added the def. of "marriage."


§ 1103.  Common-law marriage.


No common-law marriage contracted after January 1, 2005, shall be valid. Nothing in this part shall be deemed or taken to 


render any common-law marriage otherwise lawful and contracted on or before January 1, 2005, invalid.


(Nov. 23, 2004, P.L.954, No.144, eff. 60 days)


§ 1104.  Forms.


Marriage license applications, consent certificates, marriage licenses and other necessary forms shall be supplied at the 


expense of the county and shall be uniform throughout this Commonwealth as prescribed by the department. Statements of 


physicians and laboratories relative to examinations for syphilis shall be prepared and furnished by the department.


§ 1105.  Fees.


(a)  General rule.--The fee to be charged for issuing a marriage license or declaration and for returns thereof to the 


department shall be $3 of which $2.50 shall be retained by the county wherein the license is issued and 50¢ shall be 


remitted to the Commonwealth.


(b)  Transmitting Commonwealth moneys.--All moneys collected under this section for the Commonwealth shall be transmitted 


to the State Treasurer no later than the tenth day of the following month.


 


Fees.  Section 19 of the Marriage Law from which this section was derived was repealed December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, 


No.206, and amended December 20, 1990, P.L.1471, No.222, and that section remains effective under 1 Pa.C.S. § 1952 


(relating to effect of separate amendments on code provisions enacted by same General Assembly) as a result of the 1990 


amendment.


§ 1106.  Records and statistics.


(a)  Filing transcript or record.--The county shall furnish the department, not later than the 15th day of each month, 


with a transcript or record of each marriage license issued and each return of the celebration of a marriage received or 


filed during the preceding calendar month.


(b)  Forms.--The transcripts or records required to be furnished shall be made on forms prepared and furnished by the 


department and shall contain such information as the department may require.


(c)  Confidentiality.--The records furnished to the department under this section shall not be open to public inspection 


except as authorized by the regulations of the Advisory Health Board.


(d)  Statistics.--The department shall from time to time compile and publish statistics derived from records furnished 


under this section.


 


 


CHAPTER 13


MARRIAGE LICENSE


 


Sec.


1301.  Marriage license required.


1302.  Application for license.


1303.  Waiting period after application.


1304.  Restrictions on issuance of license.


1305.  Examination and tests for syphilis (Repealed).


1306.  Oral examination.


1307.  Issuance of license.


1308.  Judicial review of refusal to issue license.


1309.  Filing applications and consent certificates.


1310.  Duration and form of license.


 


Enactment.  Chapter 13 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.


§ 1301.  Marriage license required.


(a)  General rule.--No person shall be joined in marriage in this Commonwealth until a marriage license has been obtained.


(b)  Place of marriage ceremony.--A license issued under this part shall authorize a marriage ceremony to be performed in 


any county of this Commonwealth.


(c)  Identity of applicants.--Prior to issuance of the license, the person issuing the license must be satisfied as to the 


identity of both of the applicants.


§ 1302.  Application for license.


(a)  General rule.--No marriage license shall be issued except upon written and verified application made by both of the 


parties intending to marry.


(b)  Contents.--The application shall contain the following:


(1)  The full name of the applicants.


(2)  The occupation, birthplace, residence and age of the applicants. An applicant intending to marry who is a program 


participant in the Address Confidentiality Program under Chapter 67 (relating to domestic and sexual violence victim 


address confidentiality) may use the substitute address designated by the Office of Victim Advocate pursuant to Chapter 67 


as the address of their residence.


(3)  Whether the marriage contemplated is the first, second or other marriage of an applicant.


(4)  A statement that neither of the applicants is afflicted with transmissible disease.


(5)  The full name, residence, occupation and birthplace of the parents of each applicant, including the maiden name of 


the mother of each applicant. An applicant may use the substitute address designated by the Office of Victim Advocate 


pursuant to Chapter 67 for a parent's residence if:


(i)  the applicant is a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program under Chapter 67 and the applicant 


resides with the applicant's parents; or


(ii)  the applicant's parent is a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program under Chapter 67.


(6)  Any other facts necessary to determine whether a legal impediment to the proposed marriage exists.


(Dec. 22, 1993, P.L.555, No.79, eff. 60 days; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1474, No.188, eff. 180 days)


§ 1303.  Waiting period after application.


(a)  General rule.--No marriage license shall be issued prior to the third day following the making of application 


therefor.


(b) Exceptions.--The court may authorize a license to be issued at any time after the making of the application in the 


following cases:


(1)  In case of emergency or extraordinary circumstances.


(2)  If an applicant is a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard or other reserve component of the armed forces of the 


United States and is called or ordered to active duty with the armed forces of the United States.


(Nov. 23, 2004, P.L.954, No.144, eff. 60 days)


 


Cross References.  Section 1303 is referred to in section 1307 of this title.


§ 1304.  Restrictions on issuance of license.


(a)  Examinations and tests for syphilis.--(Repealed).


(b)  Minors.--


(1)  No marriage license may be issued if either of the applicants for a license is under 18 years of age.


(2)  (Deleted by amendment).


(c)  Incompetent persons.--No marriage license may be issued if either of the applicants for a license is weak minded, 


insane, of unsound mind or is under guardianship as a person of unsound mind unless the court decides that it is for the 


best interest of the applicant and the general public to issue the license and authorizes the issuance of the license.


(d)  Persons under influence of alcohol or drugs.--No marriage license may be issued if, at the time of making 


application, either of the applicants is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


(e)  Marriage to relatives.--No marriage license may be issued to applicants within the prohibited degrees of 


consanguinity which are as follows:


A man may not marry his mother.


A man may not marry the sister of his father.


A man may not marry the sister of his mother.


A man may not marry his sister.


A man may not marry his daughter.


A man may not marry the daughter of his son or daughter.


A man may not marry his first cousin.


A woman may not marry her father.


A woman may not marry the brother of her father.


A woman may not marry the brother of her mother.


A woman may not marry her brother.


A woman may not marry her son.


A woman may not marry the son of her son or daughter.


A woman may not marry her first cousin.


(Dec. 22, 1993, P.L.555, No.79, eff. 60 days; June 25, 1997, P.L.331, No.35, eff. imd.; May 8, 2020, P.L.121, No.18, eff. 


60 days)


 


2020 Amendment.  Act 18 amended subsec. (b).


1997 Repeal.  Act 35 repealed subsec. (a).


1993 Amendment.  Act 79 amended subsec. (b).


Cross References.  Section 1304 is referred to in sections 1306, 3304 of this title; section 1201 of Title 4 (Amusements); 


section 8204 of Title 74 (Transportation).


§ 1305.  Examination and tests for syphilis (Repealed).


 


1997 Repeal.  Section 1305 was repealed June 25, 1997, P.L.331, No.35, effective immediately.


§ 1306.  Oral examination.


(a)  General rule.--Each of the applicants for a marriage license shall appear in person and shall be examined under oath 


or affirmation as to:


(1)  The legality of the contemplated marriage.


(2)  Any prior marriage or marriages and its or their dissolution.


(3)  The restrictions set forth in section 1304 (relating to restrictions on issuance of license).


(4)  All the information required to be furnished on the application for license as prepared and approved by the 


department.


(b)  Exception.--If an applicant is unable to appear in person because of his active military service or because the 


office of the register of wills is closed due to a state of disaster emergency declared by the Governor under 35 Pa.C.S. § 


7301(c) (relating to general authority of Governor) or a declaration of judicial emergency under Article V of the 


Constitution of Pennsylvania, a law of this Commonwealth, a rule of court or other judicial order by the Supreme Court or 


any agency or unit of the unified judicial system exercising a power or performing a duty under 42 Pa.C.S. § 1721 


(relating to delegation of powers), the applicant shall be permitted to forward an affidavit, which verifies all of the 


information required under subsection (a), to the issuing authority.


(c)  Form.--The department shall develop and make available affidavit forms to be used by applicants under subsection (b).


(d)  Definition.--As used in this section, the term "active military service" means active service in any of the armed 


services or forces of the United States or this Commonwealth.


(Oct. 27, 2006, P.L.1192, No.126, eff. 60 days; May 8, 2020, P.L.121, No.18, eff. imd.)


 


2020 Amendment.  Act 18 amended subsec. (b). Section 3(1) of Act 18 provided that the amendment of subsec. (b) shall be 


retroactive to March 18, 2020.


§ 1307.  Issuance of license.


The marriage license shall be issued if it appears from properly completed applications on behalf of each of the parties 


to the proposed marriage that there is no legal objection to the marriage. Except as provided by section 1303(b) (relating 


to waiting period after application), the license shall not be issued prior to the third day following the date of the 


most recent of the two applications therefor.


§ 1308.  Judicial review of refusal to issue license.


(a)  Certifying proceedings to court.--If the issuance of a marriage license is refused, upon request of the applicants, 


the proceedings shall immediately be certified to the court without formality or expense to the applicants.


(b)  Prompt hearing.--The application for a marriage license shall be heard by a judge of the court, without a jury, in 


court or in chambers at the earliest possible time.


§ 1309.  Filing applications and consent certificates.


The applications for marriage licenses and consent certificates shall be immediately filed and docketed as public records.


§ 1310.  Duration and form of license.


The marriage license shall not be valid for a longer period than 60 days from the date of issue and shall be in 


substantially the following form:


Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


ss:


No.?

County of (name)


To any person authorized by law to solemnize marriage:


You are hereby authorized to join together in holy state of matrimony, according to the laws of the Commonwealth of 


Pennsylvania, (name) and (name).


Given under my hand and seal of the Court of Common Pleas of (name), at (city, borough or town), on (date).


Signed  ?

(Official Title)


 


 


CHAPTER 15


MARRIAGE CEREMONY


 


Sec.


1501.  Form of marriage certificates.


1502.  Forms where parties perform ceremony.


1503.  Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.


1504.  Returns of marriages.


 


Enactment.  Chapter 15 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.


§ 1501.  Form of marriage certificates.


The marriage license shall have appended to it two certificates, numbered to correspond with the license (one marked 


original and one marked duplicate), which shall be in substantially the following form:


I hereby certify that on (date), at (city, borough or town), Pennsylvania, (name) and (name) were by me united in 


marriage, in accordance with license issued by the Court of Common Pleas of (name) numbered

Signed

(Title of person solemnizing marriage)


Address

 


Cross References.  Section 1501 is referred to in section 1502 of this title.


§ 1502.  Forms where parties perform ceremony.


(a)  Declaration of authorization.--In all cases in which the parties intend to solemnize their marriage by religious 


ceremony without officiating clergy, the marriage shall not take place until their right so to do is certified in a 


declaration in substantially the following form:


Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


ss:


No.?

County of (name)


To (name) and (name)


Legal evidence having been furnished to me, in accordance with law, this certifies that I am satisfied that there is no 


legal impediment to you joining yourselves together in marriage.


Signed?

(Official Title)


(b)  Marriage certificates.--In lieu of the certificate set forth in section 1501 (relating to form of marriage 


certificates), there shall be appended to the declaration two certificates, numbered to correspond to the declaration, in 


the following form:


We hereby certify that on (date), we united ourselves in marriage, at (city, borough or town), County of (name), 


Pennsylvania, having first obtained from the Court of Common Pleas of (name) a declaration numberedthat the court was 


satisfied that there was no existing legal impediment to our so doing.

Signed?

Signed?

We, the undersigned, were present at the solemnization of the marriage of (name) and (name), as set forth in the foregoing 


certificate.


Signed?

Signed?

§ 1503.  Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.


(a)  General rule.--The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license 


issued under this part:


(1)  A justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth.


(2)  A former or retired justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior 


judge or senior magisterial district judge as provided or prescribed by law; or not serving as a senior judge or senior 


magisterial district judge but meets the following criteria:


(i)  has served as a magisterial district judge, judge or justice, whether or not continuously or on the same court, by 


election or appointment for an aggregate period equaling a full term of office;


(ii)  has not been defeated for reelection or retention;


(iii)  has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or 


other probation without verdict program relative to any misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth 


or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the 


District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;


(iv)  has not resigned a judicial commission to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or 


local law enforcement agencies or by the Judicial Conduct Board;


(v)  has not been removed from office by the Court of Judicial Discipline; and


(vi)  is a resident of this Commonwealth.


(3)  An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle 


or Western District of Pennsylvania.


(3.1)  An active, retired or senior bankruptcy judge of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle or 


Western District of Pennsylvania who is a resident of this Commonwealth.


(4)  An active, retired or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of 


this Commonwealth.


(5)  A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth.


(5.1)  A former mayor of a city or borough of this Commonwealth who:


(i)  has not been defeated for reelection;


(ii)  has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or 


other probation without verdict program relative to a misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or 


an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or any one of its possessions, another state, the District of 


Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;


(iii)  has not resigned the position of mayor to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or 


local law enforcement agencies;


(iv)  has served as a mayor, whether continuously or not, by election for an aggregate of a full term in office; and


(v)  is a resident of this Commonwealth.


(6)  A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.


(b)  Religious organizations.--Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this 


Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, 


institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.


(c)  Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall 


officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued under this part.


(June 22, 2000, P.L.443, No.59, eff. imd.; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days; Dec. 1, 2004, P.L.1777, No.232, 


eff. 60 days; July 14, 2009, P.L.81, No.18, eff. imd.)


 


2004 Amendment.  See section 29 of Act 207 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to construction 


of law.


§ 1504.  Returns of marriages.


(a)  General rule.--The original marriage certificate shall be signed by the person solemnizing the marriage and given to 


the parties contracting the marriage. The duplicate certificate shall be signed by the person or by a member of the 


religious society, institution or organization solemnizing the marriage and returned for recording within ten days to the 


court which issued the license.


(b)  Marriage performed by parties.--If the marriage was solemnized by the parties themselves, the original certificate 


shall be signed by the parties to the marriage, attested by two witnesses and retained by the parties contracting the 


marriage. The duplicate certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage, attested by the same two witnesses and 


returned for recording within ten days to the court issuing the license.


 


 


CHAPTER 17


MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS RELATING TO MARRIAGE


 


Sec.


1701.  Decree that spouse of applicant is presumed decedent.


1702.  Marriage during existence of former marriage.


1703.  Marriage within degree of consanguinity.


1704.  Marriage between persons of the same sex.


 


Enactment.  Chapter 17 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.


§ 1701.  Decree that spouse of applicant is presumed decedent.


(a)  Finding of death.--When the spouse of an applicant for a marriage license has disappeared or is absent from the place 


of residence of the spouse without being heard of after diligent inquiry, the court, aided by the report of a master if 


necessary, upon petition of the applicant for a marriage license, may make a finding and decree that the absentee is dead 


and the date of death if notice to the absentee has been given as provided in subsection (d) and either of the applicants 


is and for one year or more prior to the application has been a resident of this Commonwealth.


(b)  Presumption from absence.--When the death of the spouse of an applicant for a marriage license is in issue, the 


unexplained absence from the last known place of residence and the fact that the absentee has been unheard of for seven 


years may be sufficient ground for finding that the absentee died seven years after the absentee was last heard from.


(c)  Exposure to specific peril.--The fact that an absentee spouse was exposed to a specific peril of death may be a 


sufficient ground for finding that the absentee died less than seven years after the absentee was last heard from.


(d)  Notice to absentee.--The court may require advertisement in any newspapers as the court, according to the 


circumstances of the case, deems advisable of the fact of the application for the marriage license, together with notice 


that, at a specified time and place, the court or a master appointed by the court will hear evidence concerning the 


alleged absence, including the circumstances and duration thereof.


(e)  Remarriage after decree of presumed death.--Even though the absentee spouse declared to be presumed dead is in fact 


alive, the remarriage of the spouse who has obtained a license to marry and a decree of presumed death of the former 


spouse shall be valid for all purposes as though the former marriage had been terminated by divorce, and all property of 


the presumed decedent shall be administered and disposed of as provided by Title 20 (relating to decedents, estates and 


fiduciaries).


§ 1702.  Marriage during existence of former marriage.


(a)  General rule.--If a married person, during the lifetime of the other person with whom the marriage is in force, 


enters into a subsequent marriage pursuant to the requirements of this part and the parties to the marriage live together 


thereafter as husband and wife, and the subsequent marriage was entered into by one or both of the parties in good faith 


in the full belief that the former spouse was dead or that the former marriage has been annulled or terminated by a 


divorce, or without knowledge of the former marriage, they shall, after the impediment to their marriage has been removed 


by the death of the other party to the former marriage or by annulment or divorce, if they continue to live together as 


husband and wife in good faith on the part of one of them, be held to have been legally married from and immediately after 


the date of death or the date of the decree of annulment or divorce.


(b)  False rumor of death of spouse.--Where a remarriage has occurred upon false rumor of the death of a former spouse in 


appearance well-founded but there has been no decree of presumed death, the remarriage shall be void and subject to 


annulment by either party to the remarriage as provided by section 3304 (relating to grounds for annulment of void 


marriages), and the returning spouse shall have cause for divorce as provided in section 3301 (relating to grounds for 


divorce).


(c)  Criminal penalties.--Where the remarriage was entered into in good faith, neither party to the remarriage shall be 


subject to criminal prosecution for bigamy.


§ 1703.  Marriage within degree of consanguinity.


All marriages within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity as set forth in this part are voidable, but, when any of 


these marriages have not been dissolved during the lifetime of the parties, the unlawfulness of the marriage shall not be 


inquired into after the death of either of the parties to the marriage.


§ 1704.  Marriage between persons of the same sex.


It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between 


one man and one woman. A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign 


jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth.


(Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days)


 


1996 Amendment.  Act 124 added section 1704.


 


 


CHAPTER 19


ABOLITION OF ACTIONS FOR ALIENATION OF AFFECTIONS


AND BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY


 


Sec.


1901.  Actions for alienation of affections abolished.


1902.  Actions for breach of promise to marry abolished.


1903.  Purpose of chapter.


1904.  Filing or threatening to file actions prohibited.


1905.  Instruments executed in satisfaction of abolished claims prohibited.


 


Enactment.  Chapter 19 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.


§ 1901.  Actions for alienation of affections abolished.


(a)  General rule.--All civil causes of action for alienation of affections of husband or wife are abolished.


(b)  Exception.--Subsection (a) does not apply to cases where the defendant is a parent, brother or sister or a person 


formerly in loco parentis to the spouse of plaintiff.


§ 1902.  Actions for breach of promise to marry abolished.


All causes of action for breach of contract to marry are abolished.


§ 1903.  Purpose of chapter.


(a)  General rule.--No act done within this Commonwealth shall give rise, either within or without this Commonwealth, to a 


cause of action abolished by this chapter.


(b)  Contract to marry.--No contract to marry which is made within this Commonwealth shall give rise, either within or 


without this Commonwealth, to a cause of action for breach of the contract.


(c)  Intention of section.--It is the intention of this section to fix the effect, status and character of such acts and 


contracts and to render them ineffective to support or give rise to any such causes of action, either within or without 


this Commonwealth.


§ 1904.  Filing or threatening to file actions prohibited.


It is unlawful for a person, either as litigant or attorney, to file, cause to be filed, threaten to file or threaten to 


cause to be filed in a court in this Commonwealth any pleading or paper setting forth or seeking to recover upon any cause 


of action abolished or barred by this chapter whether the cause of action arose within or without this Commonwealth.


§ 1905.  Instruments executed in satisfaction of abolished claims prohibited.


(a)  Contracts and instruments void.--All contracts and instruments of every kind executed within this Commonwealth in 


payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise of any claim or cause of action abolished or barred by this chapter, 


whether the claim or cause of action arose within or without this Commonwealth, are contrary to the public policy of this 


Commonwealth and void.


(b)  Execution and use prohibited.--It is unlawful to cause, induce or procure a person to execute a contract or 


instrument proscribed by this chapter, or cause, induce or procure a person to give, pay, transfer or deliver any money or 


thing of value in payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise of any such claim or cause of action, or to receive, 


take or accept any such money or thing of value in such payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise.


(c)  Actions to enforce prohibited.--It is unlawful to commence or cause to be commenced, either as litigant or attorney, 


in a court of this Commonwealth any proceeding or action seeking to enforce or recover upon a contract or instrument 


proscribed by this chapter, knowing it to be such, whether the contract or instrument was executed within or without this 


Commonwealth.


(d)  Exceptions.--This section does not apply to the payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise of any causes of 


action which are not abolished or barred by this chapter or to the bona fide holder in due course of a negotiable 


instrument.


 

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