Louisiana Court Records
Louisiana Marriage Records
Marriage records in Louisiana are the official documents that record the legal union of individuals in the state. These marriage records are issued and compiled by the Office of the State Register and Vital Records of the Louisiana Department of Health. Under the provisions of Louisiana law, Orleans Parish marriage records are held for 50 years by the state register, while the Louisiana State Archives maintains Orleans Parish records older than 50 years.
Information in marriage records in Louisiana includes the name of both spouses and officiant, date of birth, email, residential address, phone number, place of birth, race, gender, maiden name, and number of previous marriages. Other information includes years of schooling, social security number or passport number, name of witnesses, father and mother’s names, and father and mother’s birth state and type of marriage (covenant marriage or not).
What Types of Marriage Records are available in Louisiana
Marriage records available to the public in the State of Louisiana include:
- Marriage certificates
- Marriage licenses
- Certified copies of marriage certificates
- An index to register of marriages
- An index to marriage records.
A marriage certificate is an official document providing legal evidence of a couple’s marital status. A marriage certificate should be purchased while obtaining the marriage license, as it is sent to the couple after the marriage officiant returns the signed license after the wedding and before the marriage license expires. A married couple will require their marriage certificate for post-marital processes that involve their spouse, such as a name change, an update to bank accounts or health insurance, or filing tax returns. Newlyweds are encouraged to purchase one or more certified copies of their marriage certificate while applying for the license. Married couples in Louisiana receive a marriage certificate only after completing a marriage license.
A marriage license is a legal document that gives legal permission to a couple to get married. It is typically obtained before the wedding and is valid in all Louisiana parishes. Intending couples should apply for a marriage license within one to thirty days of the wedding date, as it expires and becomes invalid 30 days after issuance. If the wedding ceremony gets postponed, the couple should return it, and they will need to purchase a new one.
Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate:
A certified copy of a marriage certificate is a duplicate of the original certificate certified by the issuing authority as a legal and true copy of the original. The couple uses the certified copy when there is a need to present the marriage certificate, as the officiant files the original at the register.
Index to Marriage Records:
An index to marriage records is a card index to the records arranged by name of bride and groom in the Louisiana Division and City Archives. In Louisiana, these records include the Justice of Peace marriage Records from 1846 to 1880. The Louisiana parishes’ Clerks of Courts also keep an index of marriage records.
Index to Register of Marriages:
An index to register of marriages is a marriage index that gives the names, ages, sex of the parties in a marriage and the date of the marriage. The groom's index typically precedes the bride's index. In Louisiana, these indexes are from 1831 to 1994.
Are Louisiana Marriage Records Public?
Yes, Louisiana marriage records are available to the general public for review and inspection as they are considered public records. The Louisiana Public Records Act, enacted in 1940 with multiple revisions since then, governs access to these records. While marriage records in Louisiana are public, requestors must be at least 18 years old to copy, inspect, reproduce, or obtain copies of these records. Also, to protect the privacy of individuals, the clerk's office may redact social security numbers and other sensitive information from members of the public.
How to Find Marriage Records in Louisiana
The Clerk of Courts of the parish where the marriage is held maintains the marriage records in Louisiana. They are also available through the Office of the State Register and Vital Records for licenses purchased at Orleans parish. All requests for marriage records in Louisiana must include proper identification, payment of the required fees, and completion of the application form provided by the Louisiana Department of Health.
Interested parties can obtain certified copies of marriage certificates in Louisiana in person, through mail, or via the Internet. In-person collection at the Vital office central office is with an exact payment of $5 with a check, money order, or cash. In-person collection can be done daily from 8:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. (except for state holidays) at the Vital Records Central Office at:
1450 Poydras Street, Suite 400
New Orleans, LA 70112
Parties who wish to obtain copies of certified marriage certificates by walking in can also locate the office of the Clerk of Courts for other Louisiana parishes through the directory of parish offices.
To obtain the certified copy of an Orlean parish marriage certificate by mail, send the completed request form, a photo identification, and the fee of $5 for the license and $0.5 for the mailing to:
Vital Records Registry
P.O. Box 60630
New Orleans, LA 70160
Note that some parishes may have a different fee for a copy of a marriage record and mailing fee. Requesters by mail should allow 8 to 10 weeks for delivery by mail. Interested parties who wish to obtain certified copies by mail for other parishes can also use the directory of parishes provided by the Louisiana Department of Health for the mailing address.
Persons interested in obtaining marriage records for another state while in Louisiana should contact the vital records office of that state.
How to Get a Marriage License in Louisiana
Eligible individuals intending to marry receive a marriage license after fulfilling the necessary legal conditions and requirements. On the other hand, a marriage certificate is a vital document completed and signed by a couple during their marriage ceremony through the guidance of an officiant who afterward files the certificate. Applicants for a marriage license in Louisiana can obtain one at their local clerk of court’s office, marriage license office, or marriage license department. To apply for a marriage license in Louisiana both parties must be present and provide the required documents. Alternatively, parties can opt to complete an application to obtain a marriage license before applying in person. If a party is absent, the acceptance of their application depends on the prior notarization of their signature. Absent parties who are members of the U.S. armed forces can provide a copy of their military identity card in place of their signature.
Applicants for a marriage license in Louisiana are to be 18 years old or have signed consent from both parents or a signed order from the juvenile court if they are 16 - 17 years old. Females under the age of 16 can be issued a license if there is a written order from a juvenile court judge. Applicants are also required to submit the following documents and information:
- A current state ID, passport, or state driver's license
- Certified birth certificate (photocopies are not accepted)
- Social security numbers or a passport from their country of birth if not born in the United States or a US territory or a visa attached with an I-94 form
- Certified copy of a final divorce decree if either party has been divorced before
- Certified death certificate of a former dead spouse if either party is a widow or widower
- Covenant marriage affidavit (if applicable)
Applicants for a marriage license are to pay a non-refundable $27.50 fee payable by check, cash, or money order. Note that applicants are not allowed to use credit or debit cards for their payments. Louisiana law requires a 24-hour waiting period after the issuance of the license for the wedding ceremony. However, the waiting period can be waived by judges of the First or Second City Courts as authorized by law, on meritorious and serious reasons, if required. Parties who require a waiver, such as parties who do not reside in the jurisdiction of the State of Louisiana, can apply with the waiver form. If both parties do not reside in Louisiana, the officiant, who should be a registered Orleans officiant, will conduct the marriage service in Orleans parish. The Louisiana Dept of Health recommends obtaining the license two weeks before the wedding ceremony.
Who can obtain Marriage Records in Louisiana?
Marriage records in Louisiana are public records and are open to all members of the public to access them. Interested parties can obtain these from the Clerk of Courts of a parish or, for older records, the Research Library of Louisiana State Archives. Persons who can obtain marriage records in Louisiana include:
- The spouses who got married require certified copies of their marriage certificate for a number of things, such as application for a foreign visa, proof of marital status, or insurance claims
- Persons researching family genealogy who require marriage records to verify family connections, relationships, migrations, dates, and locations
- Family members such as children of the spouses, grandparents, legal guardians, and grandchildren who need to present marriage documents or require the information on the marriage documents
- Persons who need to show an intent to marry even though the marriage did not happen
- Government agencies may require marriage records for official purposes, which may be legal or administrative
- Attorneys of the spouses who got married or attorneys of the members of their family or extended families
- Members of the public, such as journalists, historians, or writers
Persons seeking marriage records such as certified true copies are required to fill out an application form, pay the required fees for the copy and mailing, and provide information that includes:
- Full names of the groom, bride, or spouse
- Date of marriage ceremony
- Mailing address for a certified copy
Alternatively, they can visit the office where the record is maintained or obtain the records via the Internet.
Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Louisiana
Yes, interested parties can access Louisiana marriage records online for free. For example, the Office of the Secretary of State of Louisiana provides an online marriage records search service for marriages from 1870 to 1972, which allows users access to certified copies of microfilmed records from this period. This service also provides access to view marriage records for marriages from 1831–1869 but not as individual records, and interested parties cannot download them.
Also, the marriage index of Louisiana parishes is available through the Louisiana Clerks’ Remote Access Authority (LCRAA) portal. The portal provides free access to all Louisiana parishes without visiting individual parish websites when the user registers an account.
Third-party search platforms remove the need to visit the parishes to request access to marriage records. Interested persons can obtain copies of marriage records through these portals. Some of these platforms provide a single point of access to all parishes, providing convenience and flexibility to the end user. Others provide access to multiple marriage record types or place online marriage records that were only available through a physical visit to a Louisiana State archive.
Is Louisiana a Common Law State for Marriage?
No, Louisiana is not a common-law state for marriage. Louisiana law lacks a provision for common law marriages in the state, as it does not derive its laws from British common law, distinguishing it from states that do. A common law marriage is one in which two individuals live together as if married, even though they have never formalized their union with a ceremony or a license. Parties enter into common law marriages through their mutual agreement and cohabitation. To be recognized as married in Louisiana, partners have to order a marriage license and perform a marriage ceremony. While Louisiana does not allow common law marriages in the state, it recognizes common law marriages started in jurisdictions or states where such unions are legal.
States with common law marriages recognized by Louisiana include Texas, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia (DC), Iowa, Utah, Colorado, Montana, South Carolina, Kansas, and Alabama. Louisiana also recognizes common law marriages in Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where common law marriages are no longer recognized if the common law marriage started before the dates ending them in these states.
For a common law marriage started out of Louisiana to be recognized in the state, the parties have to show that they have lived together as a married couple. They also need to have documents that show that they have lived together as a married couple, such as credit card accounts, bank accounts, housing agreements, and rental contracts with their names on them. In addition, pictures of the couple at social events or family gatherings and mail sent to the couple addressed to the same address can also be used to prove their common law marriage.