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Franklin Divorce Attorney > Blog > Family > What Makes A Marriage “Valid” In Tennessee

What Makes A Marriage “Valid” In Tennessee


Many weddings resemble one another. These commitment ceremonies include a traditional license and officiant, white cake, perhaps the church where your parents were married, and maybe even that one uncle who tried to dance on the bar a few hours in. However, you may also have heard of that one celebrity, or your co-worker’s sister, who decided to skip the traditional route and eloped instead. Now her wedding album is filled with pictures of the not-so-local mountain peak and village elder who performed her ceremony.

Every commitment is important. However, legally speaking, the United States and Tennessee reserve certain rights for legally valid marriages. But what, exactly, does Tennessee require of couples in order to deem their marriage as “valid”?

Getting Married in Tennessee

Compared to some other states in the U.S., it is relatively simple to have a valid marriage performed in Tennessee.

Marriage License

For the union to be legally valid individuals must apply for a marriage license. In Tennessee, you can apply for a marriage license anywhere in the state and your marriage will be considered valid everywhere in the state.

The marriage license will remain valid for 30 days. This means you need to marry within that 30 day window, or apply for a new license if that window lapses. There is no waiting period to use the license. This means that, once the license is granted, you can go perform the ceremony immediately. In Williamson County, both you and your partner will need to be present when you apply for the license, and you should be prepared to provide drivers’ licenses, social security cards, passports if you are not a U.S. citizen, and any signed, final divorce decree that either party may have obtained after a previous divorce.  If you are a widow or widower, you will need to provide the court with the date of death of your previous spouse.

Different court systems in other counties may have different/additional requirements, so you should always check the local court website before showing up to apply.

Some Tennessee Marriage Requirements

  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old. Though, currently, a 17 year old may marry with parental consent IF the partner is less than four years older than them.
  • The marriage must be performed by an individual recognized as having the authority to do so. T.C.A. 36-3-301 lists these individuals, and included are ministers, preachers, pastors, rabbis, religious leaders, mayors, federal judges, members of the county legislature, etc.


There are situations where the couple did meet the procedural requirements of having a valid marriage or partnership, but the relationship was actually void or voidable. This can happen when, for example, one of the partners was actually already married, and knew they were already married, when the second marriage took place. All states have laws against bigamy and such a marriage would be void. This recently happened in a case rising out of the California courts, where a second wife of an already legally married man tried to sue for alimony.

Void or voidable marriages may be dissolved via the annulment process.

Contact Fort, Holloway & Rogers

If you are questioning whether your marriage is valid under the state laws, contact the experienced Franklin family lawyers at Fort, Holloway & Rogers to schedule a consultation with one of our expert attorneys.




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