Where would Pee-Wee Herman look to find marriage records in Texas? The basement… of… the ALAMO!
I grew up watching funny movies like Pee Wee’s Great Adventure, but an even funnier story, and you may have already heard it…
When you get married, all the vows are pretty and nice, but legally speaking, the filing of your marriage license comes long before what most people consider the real wedding; and, like it or not once you sign that marriage record, your union is on record with the state.
It is considered a public record just like background checks, they are available for anyone to see, should someone choose.
For all the guys out there, I feel your pain. My last name was stolen and my bank accounts merged not but a year and some ago. A name that was generally incognito was plastered across the web and several county civil boards I once had to sit under.
Unlike the planning of a wedding, obtaining public records is not overly hard; well, they don’t require much extensive research, that is.
There usually is a fee, which is a bummer, no matter where you search for the record; although, you may possibly find a free online public records site, there is always the question of accuracy.
And because Texas is a very large state, with over 25 million persons, names are bound to overlap, so you want to make sure that you get the accurate results.
Logically, the question is… “how do I get accurate results? Everything’s bigger in Texas” or so they say.
When researching background checks, civil records, and public records… in this case vital records, a good place to start your search for a marriage record would be at the Texas state government’s website.
On their homepage, there is a link where you can start and finish the process of requesting a marriage. Have your credit card handy.
The online orders are completed within 10-15 business days and once an order has been confirmed, it cannot be cancelled and payment is required even if the search doesn’t bring up any record; in other words… the payment is non-refundable and non-transferable. And worse news in the event you’re in a hurry; when ordering online, it is not possible to request next-day or overnight deliveries either. Plan ahead.
The document that you request through the vital statistics office is actually a marriage verification letter. This is simply a document verifying whether the marriage was recorded with the state and these are available from the year 1966 to the present.
A marriage verification letter is not considered a legal substitute for a marriage license, so be careful that you order the correct document if you need it for legal purposes. In fact, a marriage verification letter is the only kind of marriage document that you can obtain through the Texas.gov vital records application online.
The information that you need to order a marriage verification letter online is:
- the husbands or the wife’s full name;
- the date or approximate date of the marriage and the following if known;
- the date of birth of both individuals,
- the couple’s age.
For copies of the actual marriage license you will have to contact the county clerk in the county in which the marriage took place.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has a link to this online application as well.
If you order the marriage record in person at the Vital Statistics office, which is in Austin, there are three payment options:
- money order
- or cash
And this takes approximately a half-hour to two hours. If you mail in the form, you can pay with check, money order or credit card and this takes 6-8 weeks to get results.
The Texas Department of State Health Services also has indexes of marriage records by year, which you can purchase or download for free. “Marriage License Application and Report of Divorce indexes are not themselves legal documents and are prepared only as aids in locating the records upon which they are based.” They also mention that there may be errors in the documents. Sounds like they may have hired Pee-Wee.
Also listed on their website, you can find a link to a listing of all the counties in Texas. You may need this.
If you know the county where the marriage took place, this would be the place to go for your marriage record. Most counties have websites where you can find information about the county clerk who is the recorder and filer of marriage licenses and there will be information about how to obtain the marriage record.
Their fees may be slightly different as well. In general, you can call the county clerk’s office to obtain the specific fees and requirements for written requests of marriage records.
There is another site called VitalCheck which is an, “official online government-authorized service and secure ordering system approved by hundreds of vital record issuing agencies nationwide,” where you can order certified marriage records.
Lastly, a trustworth background check company will have the researchers to check marital records, among many other things. This takes all the leg work out of it for the consumer and provides accurate, comprehensive information that would likely go unnoticed.
Generally, if you know what county the marriage took place in, you will want to start at that county’s website and more specifically, the county clerks department. If you don’t know the county, just go to the state’s vital records site. As always, with so many public records out there be careful where you go for them and choose wisely.
“I’m in Texas… see, I’ll prove it…”
*Shouting out the phone booth*
“The stars at night, shine big and bright!”
*Rowdy crowd walking about* “Deep in the hearrrrt of Texas!”
Categories: State News and Tips