Pennsylvania Marriage Laws

Anticipating an impending marriage is an exciting time in a person's life. However, before a legal marriage can be performed in Pennsylvania the couple must first satisfy several requirements. As in all states, a marriage is limited to two persons. These two people must demonstrate the basic marriage requirements of consent, legal age, and capacity to enter into marriage. The couple must also receive a marriage license from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which has its own requirements, before a marriage ceremony is performed. This article explains the basic requirements that marriage laws in Pennsylvania set out for entrance into a legally recognized union.

Consent, Legal Age, and Capacity

To marry without parental consent individuals must be 18 years of age or older. For consent to exist, both parties to the proposed marriage must enter the union without force or coercion. The individuals must also have no mistaken ideas as to the nature of the union. Additionally, a person must not be weak minded, insane, or of "unsound mind" to satisfy capacity. The requirement does not prevent a person with any mental illness or physical inability to consummate the marriage from marrying.

Marriage License Requirements

People wishing to be legally married in the state of Pennsylvania must also complete a marriage license application at their nearest Marriage License Bureau of the Register of Wills. Both applicants must appear together and in person at the office to complete the process, show photo identification, and pay the marriage license fees, which may vary by county.

Upon completing the process, a three-day waiting period begins before a marriage license can be issued. The license is valid for 60 days from the date of issue.

Pennsylvania Marriage Laws at a Glance

While there is value in reading laws in their original statutory form, understanding their meaning is often easier when they're laid out in plain English. This chart provides you with a helpful explanation of Pennsylvania's marriage laws and licensing requirements.

Statute(s)

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A Section 1301,1302,1303 (Marriage License Required, Application for License, and Waiting Period After Application)

General Rule of Marriage

In Pennsylvania, a marriage license is required before being joined in marriage. The license permits the performance of a marriage ceremony in any county.

Marriage License Requirements

The person dispensing the marriage license must be satisfied as to both applicant's identities prior to its issuance. Additionally, a written and verified application from both parties intending to marry must be completed before a license is issued. The application must contain:

  • The full names of both applicants;
  • Each applicant's occupation, age, birthplace and residence;
  • A statement of which marriage this will be for each applicant (first, second, etc.);
  • An affirmation neither applicant has a transmissible disease;
  • Full names (including mothers' maiden names), residences, occupation, and birthplaces of each applicant's parents; and
  • Any other facts needed to determine if a legal impediment to the proposed marriage exists.

Once these requirements are satisfied, Pennsylvania requires a 3-day waiting period between the date the marriage license application process is completed and the date a license may be issued.

Related Statutes

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A.:

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Pennsylvania Marriage Laws: Related Resources

Consider Getting Legal Advice on Your Pennsylvania Marriage

Marriage is one of the most important events of a person's life. While thrilling, a potentially lifelong commitment requires practical planning and has reverberations on your legal status (among many other aspects of your life). If you need assistance or advice concerning marriage laws in Pennsylvania and how they may affect you, you should talk to a family law attorney about your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.