Necessity of License:
It is against the law to be joined in marriage (by an officiant) without a license issued by a clerk of the district court.
Who can act as an officiant:
Any judge of any court, city mayor, minister, pastor, priest, or in accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious denomination, Indian nation or tribe. In addition, there are certain other public officials in a few other counties in the state who may be able to.
Validity of License:
A marriage license, once issued, is valid for 180 days (about 6 months). It is valid the minute it is issued; THERE IS NO WAITING PERIOD. If at least one of the parties is a Montana resident, it is valid anywhere in the state. If both parties are non-residents, the license may be obtained from the clerk of the district court of the county where the marriage ceremony is to be performed.
Age of Consent:
At least 18 for both parties. If one or both is younger than 18, but 16 or older, it is still possible to get a license, but you are required to do much more (see Marriages Involving Minors below). In any case, we may require you to show proof of age and identity (birth certificate and/or picture ID).
Appearance of both parties:
We have to have BOTH parties’ signatures on the application BEFORE we can issue the license.
Marriage licenses are public record and we cannot withhold them from the media or anyone else. If you ask us, we will be happy to pass your request for non-publication on to the press, but the decision whether to publish or not is up to the media.
It is against the law for us AND WE WILL NOT ISSUE A LICENSE TO ANYONE WHO IS: (1) under the age of 16; (2) nearer in kin than second cousin to the prospective spouse; (3) under the influence of any intoxicant at the time of application; (4) had prior marriage license application rejected and the reason for the rejection has not been rectified; or (5) not fully complied with any provision contained on this sheet.
Misdemeanor and/or felony criminal charges can result from knowingly falsifying information on your application and/or failing to comply with the laws relating to the application. Possible penalties resulting from any criminal conviction can include fines and/or jail time. Aside from criminal liability, you may face serious consequences, legally and otherwise, if you choose not to comply with the spirit and intent of the laws relating to marriage. Please don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any uncertainty. You are assured we will maintain confidentiality and either answer your questions to the best of our ability or refer you to someone who can.
Declaration without solemnization:
It is possible to declare yourselves legally married without going through a ceremony in Montana. You will still, in effect, have to comply with everything on this sheet, although we will not actually be issuing you a license. Ask us for details.
MARRIAGES INVOLVING MINORS:
Montana law protects minors and imposes additional requirements to ensure that a proposed marriage is in the best interest of an underage party.
If either party is under sixteen (16) years of age, THERE CANNOT BE A LEGAL MARRIAGE IN MONTANA. If either of the parties is 16 or 17, it is possible to get a marriage license, but you have to fully comply with everything stated above, PLUS THE FOLLOWING:
Parent or guardian permission:
You will have to provide written, signed, and notarized permission to the marriage from any parent or legal guardian whose rights haven’t been legally terminated. This may mean contacting an absent parent or guardian.
The law requires you to submit a WRITTEN report from a designated counselor, stating that both parties have adequately participated in and completed at least two (2) marriage counseling sessions, at least ten (10) days apart, before we can issue a license.
After you have done all of the above things, there is one more hurdle. A marriage license may be issued only if the district judge finds that the underage party is capable of assuming the responsibilities of marriage and that marriage will serve the minor’s best interest. Pregnancy alone does not establish that the best interest of the party will be served. So, even in cases where a pregnancy is involved, as well as when not, the district judge, in effect, has to approve of the marriage.