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Tennessee Court Records

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Tennessee Marriage Records

Tennessee marriage records contain official documentation on all marriage events in the Volunteer State. Such records provide the following details:

  • Full birth names for both parties. 
  • Name of parents in full (may also include their maiden names) 
  • The date the license was issued
  • Date and location of marriage 
  • Name of the officiating minister and any witnesses at the event 
  • The bride's full name before the marriage event. 

Additional spouse and license details may also be available in a marriage record. However, the accessibility of these details may depend on the requester’s eligibility. Depending on the age of the record, Tennessee marriage records may exist as microfilms, digital, or physical files. 

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Tennessee

Within Tennessee, state and local government agencies maintain different types of records, encompassing everything from information officially certified married records to documents filed during the license application process. 

Tennessee Marriage Certificate:

A Tennessee marriage certificate is an official document confirming that the named parties have been legally married per state laws. Marriage certificates are created and issued after the civil marriage. To obtain a marriage certificate, couples must meet several essential requirements, some of which include:

  • Both parties must have a marriage license
  • Both parties must have a wedding ceremony
  • A recognized officiant must lead the ceremony 

Tennessee Marriage License:

A Tennessee marriage license is a legal document that grants a couple permission to marry. It must be applied for and obtained before the wedding. To apply for a license to get married in Tennessee, the couple must meet the following criteria:

  • They must be old enough to obtain a license. 
  • They cannot be currently married or be in a registered domestic partnership with another person.
  • They cannot be first cousins or any nearer of kin to each other.

Are Tennessee Marriage Records Public?

Under state law, marriage records older than 50 are generally open and accessible to the public. Such records are maintained by the Tennessee State Library & Archives. However, records created within the last 50 years remain confidential and may only be accessed by eligible persons. Interested persons can obtain copies of confidential marriage records by submitting a request to the Tennessee Office of Vital Records and supporting documents proving their eligibility. 

How to Find Marriage Records in Tennessee

With these general steps, eligible parties can obtain copies of a marriage record in Tennessee. 

Step 1. Determine the Age of the Record

Tennessee began maintaining statewide records in 1945. As such, access to marriage records will depend on the creation. Older records, such as marriage records created between 1922 and 1972, are maintained by the Tennessee State Library & Archives. In comparison, records created within the last 50 years can be found by contacting the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. 

Step 2. Collect Information

Tennessee maintains millions of vital records. To process a search for records, you'll need some related information to help simplify the process. Some of the information necessary for finding marriage records include:

  • The full name of both spouses (first, middle, last)
  • Original surname (if different  after marriage)
  • The location where the marriage license was issued (city, county, state)
  • Date of marriage (month, day, year)
  • Location of marriage

You'll also need to provide personal details, such as your full name, reason for making the request, and relationship to the persons named on the record. 

Step 3. Submit Request for Records

The Tennessee Office of Vital Records provides multiple options for obtaining records. Residents can obtain records by applying at any local county health department. Applications can also be submitted at the main office located at: 

Tennessee Vital Records

1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower

710 James Robertson Parkway

Nashville, TN  37243

The office opens from Monday through Friday between 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. Alternatively, record seekers can send in applications online or via mail. Mailed requests must include a completed application form, a copy of a valid government-issued ID, and the applicable fee. The office charges a non-refundable $15 fee, which covers the search cost and one copy of the record if found.  

How to Get a Marriage License in Tennessee

Couples who wish to wed can get a marriage license in Tennessee by following a few general steps. 

Step 1. Meet the Eligibility Rules for the State

To get a license, applicants must meet the state rules of eligibility. Licenses are only issued to parties who meet the following:

  • Both spouses must be at least 18 years old. 
  • An applicant may marry at 17 with parental consent, but the spouse must not be more than four years older.
  • Both parties must have no direct relations (e.g., no marriage between siblings or the lineal descendant of husband or wife)

Step 2. Provide Necessary Information

Couples wishing to obtain a marriage license must provide general information about themselves in the application. Some of the information that may be required for a license include:

  • First, middle, and last names of both spouses
  • Original surname of spouses (if applicable)
  • Address of both parties as at the time of application (city, state, zip)
  • Birthplace and date of birth
  • Gender and race
  • Marital history (number of times married)

Applicants may also need to provide some parental information, such as the full name and birthplace of both parents, as well as some educational information (highest qualification achieved).  

Step 3. Submit Application

License applications are processed at the County Clerk's office. However, depending on the county, applicants may need to schedule an appointment before visiting the office. Most counties also require that both parties must appear during license applications. 

Additional documentation may be required depending on the age of both parties. For instance, while couples aged 21 may only need a valid photo ID for verification, applicants between 18 and 20 may be asked to present a certified birth certificate. Tennessee marriage licenses cost an average of $98 for couples who still need to complete a premarital course and less for couples who have completed a course within the last 12 months. 

Who can obtain Marriage Records in Tennessee?

Almost anyone can obtain marriage records older than 50 years. Such records fall under public record laws and are generally accessible. However, only eligible persons may obtain copies of more recent records. Under state laws, such records are confidential. They may only be issued to eligible persons with direct and tangible interest, such as those named on the record, direct family members, and legally authorized applicants.  

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Tennessee

The general public can look up online marriage records for free in Tennessee using platforms like the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). A digital repository maintained by the Tennessee State Library & Archives, the online archive provides open access to thousands of documents and records. Record seekers may also be able to look up some marriage records for free using third-party platforms. Operating as private entities independent of the Tennessee state government or any official agency, such sites provide access to records compiled from multiple jurisdictions across the state. Access to some records may require essential information, such as the subject's name or marriage location. 

Is Tennessee a Common Law State for Marriage?

Tennessee is not a common-law marriage state. To be considered legally married in Tennessee, couples must be over 18, obtain a marriage license, and have a marriage ceremony. However, although Tennessee does not permit the establishment of common-law marriage within its borders, it accepts the validity of common-law marriages created in states that allow this type of union. 

Common law marriages refer to unions where two unwed persons are considered married without a formal ceremony or license. Such marriages are allowed in multiple US states, including Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Iowa and Rhode Island. Some of the general requirements for forming a common-law marriage include the following:

  • Both parties must live together for a fixed period. 
  • Parties must be old enough to marry and must have no direct relationship
  • Parties must behave as if they are married in social circles. 

Although common law marriages aren't permitted in Tennessee, couples who wish to document their relationship can do so using civil contracts such as a cohabitation agreement. Cohabitation agreements (or domestic partnership agreements) are recognized as valid and are generally enforceable under Tennessee law. Couples can set rights and responsibilities with cohabitation agreements, such as granting power of attorney, defying custody decisions, and establishing property rights.


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