TALLADEGA COUNTY -- Starting Thursday, the law governing how Alabamians get married will change.
Talladega County Probate Judge Randy Jinks explained to the County Commission on Monday that his office will stop issuing marriage licenses after 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, based on changes to state law.
“There won’t be any more traditional marriage certificates after that,” he said. “You’ll print out the form from the state Health Department website, and then both parties will have to sign and have their signature notarized. Whenever the second party signs, that’s the official date of the marriage. The Probate Office is totally out of the loop.”
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples have the right to get married, at least seven probate judges in Alabama refused to issue licenses, Jinks said.
The new law also no longer requires a birth certificate as proof of age. There is an affidavit of consent for marriage of a minor form that must be filled out by a parent or guardian if one or both of the people getting married are between the ages of 16 and 18, but there is no need to present any proof that the person signing this form actually is a parent or guardian.
Once all the necessary forms have been printed and filled out, they must be filed with the Probate Court within 30 days; the recording fee is $75, and the cost for a certified copy is $4. The Probate Office records them and mails them to Montgomery, where the state is responsible for determining if they are legal and contain accurate information.
The new law does not require a ceremony or exchange of vows, Jinks added.
In a prepared release accompanying his remarks, Jinks said, “No doubt the change is going to be confusing, difficult and cause a burden to many people. I did not support this change and I don’t believe our citizens are going to be served any better by its implementation.
“Marriage is probably the single most important decision two people will ever make together. I personally believe this law diminishes the institution of marriage and reduces the sanctity of marriage by not requiring the traditional ceremony and exchanging of vows.
“But as your probate judge, we will abide by the law and help make this transition as easy as possible for our citizens.”
Although the ceremony and vows are no longer required, couples are still welcome to them, Jinks said. It is important to note, however, that the second signature and notarization should coincide with the day of the ceremony.
There will be computers available in the Probate Office to fill out and print the forms, but probate personnel will not be allowed to notarize the signatures, Jinks said.
“We’re bending over backwards to accommodate the changes,” Jinks told the commissioners. “I’m not faulting the Legislature for doing what they did, but I don’t think every Supreme Court action requires a state reaction, either.”
The certificates are available at www.alabamapublichealth.gov/vitalrecords/marriage-certificates.html.
Further coverage of Monday’s commission meeting will appear in future editions of The Daily Home.