Getting married is exciting. There are so many things to do before the ceremony. Obtaining your New Jersey marriage license is one of the most important things a couple must do.

If you do not obtain a marriage license, you are not legally married. However, what happens when someone gets the marriage license, fills everything correctly, but forgets to submit the signed license after the wedding ceremony? Are they legally married?

No, if there is no paperwork filed with the Registrar of the municipality in which the ceremony was performed, the parties are not legally married. 

Filing a Delayed Marriage Certificate in New Jersey

Ideally, the marriage license would be filed with the Registrar within a day or two after the wedding ceremony. Women generally need a certified copy of the marriage license to change their name on accounts and government documents. 

However, if you did not need a certified copy of your marriage license, it could be easy to overlook filing the marriage license. There is a process for filing a delayed marriage certificate in New Jersey.

First, you file an application requesting a copy of your marriage certificate to verify that it is not filed with the state.

If there is no marriage certificate on file, you can file a late marriage certificate if:

  • You were married less than seven years ago; and
  • You have documentary proof of the marriage.

However, if your marriage occurred more than seven years ago, the process is more complicated. 

You must submit documentary proof that the marriage occurred and a copy of your marriage license application. Suppose you do not have a copy of the marriage license application. In that case, it takes a court order directing the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry to add the marriage to the files as a delayed record. 

You can contact the Record Modification unit for more information by calling 1-866-649-8726.

How Do You Obtain a Marriage License in New Jersey?

Each state has a process for couples to obtain a marriage license. 

The process for obtaining a marriage license in New Jersey is as follows:

  • Complete the marriage license application form, but do not sign the application before going to the Local Registrar’s office. The application must be signed under oath at the Registrar’s office.
  • You apply for your marriage license in the municipality where you or your partner lives. The marriage license is valid anywhere in the state.
  • You must provide proof of identity (i.e., driver’s license, passport, etc.), proof of residency for at least one applicant, your Social Security Number, a witness at least 18 years of age or older, and a $28 application fee.
  • There is a 72-hour waiting period after you file your application and the Registrar’s office before picking up the marriage license. The license is valid for six months from the date accepted unless the Registrar extends the deadline (no more than one year).

The person officiating at your wedding completes the information on the marriage license and has every sign where indicated. The officiant should file the marriage license with the Registrar’s office in the municipality where the wedding occurred.

Most officiants who perform weddings in New Jersey are familiar with the requirements regarding the marriage license. If you have questions, you should contact the Registrar’s office to ensure that everything is complete and correct. Otherwise, you might not be legally married. 

Obtaining Copies of Your Marriage Certificate

You can order a copy of your marriage certificate from the local Registrar’s office or the New Jersey Department of Health’s Vital Statistics Office. You can mail the request to the office with the required documentation, order the marriage certificate online, or request the copy by telephone.

Newlyweds should order at least one copy of the marriage certificate for their records as soon as possible. Wives need the copy to change their names, and the couple may need a copy for other reasons. Having the copy on hand can save time and frustration in the future.

Sadly, one reason you might need a copy of your marriage license is for a divorce. Your divorce attorney needs the information from the license for court documents. The information is needed, whether you litigate your divorce, apply for a collaborative divorce, enter a post-nuptial agreement, or file for a military divorce.

If you failed to file your marriage license after your wedding, notify your divorce lawyer immediately. Not filing the marriage license could create problems that must be addressed before proceeding with the divorce.