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Guide to Vermont Weddings & Civil Unions

Vermont Weddings

Vermont Civil Unions


Who can get married in Vermont?

A man and a woman who are each at least 18 years old can marry in Vermont. If you are at least 16, but under 18, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian. Your parent or guardian should go with you to the town clerk's office to sign an affidavit giving you permission to marry. (The affidavit in on the back of the marriage license and is a legal part of the license.) If one or both of you are under the age of 16 and a Vermont resident, you cannot be married in Vermont unless you first furnish the town clerk with a certificate from a probate, district, or superior court judge of the district in which the underage person resides. If the underage person is not a Vermont resident, you must furnish the town clerk with a certificate from a judge of the district or county in which the marriage will take place. By Vermont law, no one under the age of 14 may marry in Vermont.

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Are there any other marriage restrictions?

Anyone under guardianship cannot marry without the guardian's written consent. Vermont also does not allow marriage between most close relatives. You cannot marry a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, child, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt or uncle. First cousins who are Vermont residents, or residents of another state where marriage between first cousins is allowed, may marry each other in Vermont. You cannot marry in Vermont to evade the laws of the state where you live. You cannot marry if either of you is currently married to someone else. The law also requires that both parties be of sound mind.

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Who can form a Civil Union?

Both parties to a civil union must be of the same sex and therefore ineligible for marriage. Both parties must be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and not already in a marriage or another civil union. Vermont also does not allow a civil union between most close relatives. You cannot enter a civil union with a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, child, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt or uncle. Anyone under guardianship must have the guardian sign an affidavit consenting to the union. You do not have to be Vermont residents to form a civil union in Vermont.

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Do we need a license? Do we need blood tests?

You will need a license, but you do not need blood tests, and there is no waiting period.

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Where do we get a license and how much does it cost?

Licenses are issued by Vermont town clerks. If both parties are Vermont residents, you may go to the town clerk in either of your towns of residence. If just one of you resides in a Vermont town, you must buy the license in that town. The license costs $23, and is valid for 60 days from the date it is issued. During that time, you must have the union certified by an authorized person ? otherwise, the license is void.

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What if we are not Vermont residents?

If neither party is a Vermont resident, you may get the license from any town clerk in the state.

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What information must we provide to get a license?

Besides basic information about yourselves (names, towns of residence, places and dates of birth), you must also provide your parents' names, including your mothers' maiden names, and their places of birth. (A certified copy of your birth certificate can supply most of this information.)

Vermont law requires that at least one of you sign the license in the presence of the town clerk, certifying that all the information you provided is correct. However, most town clerks prefer to see both of you in person before issuing your license. The law requires that town clerks satisfy themselves that you are both free to marry or form a civil union under Vermont laws. Therefore, they may legally ask to see documented proof of your statements (birth certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates, etc.). You will also be asked to provide information about your race, the highest grade you completed in school, the number of previous marriages, and how they ended. This information is confidential and does not become part of the marriage certificate.

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What if either of us has been married or in a civil union before?

If your husband, wife, or civil union partner has died, you are free to form a civil union. The clerk will ask the date your spouse or civil union partner died. If you are divorced, you may form a civil union after the date on which your previous marriage or civil union was legally dissolved.

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Can a license be issued through the mail? Can we be married or form a civil union by proxy?

No. A marriage/civil union license cannot be issued through the mail, and you cannot be married or form a civil union by proxy.

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Where can we get married or have our civil union certified?

With a valid Vermont license, you can get married or have your civil union certified anywhere in Vermont, but only in Vermont.

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Who can marry us or certify our civil union? Do we need witnesses?

A supreme court justice, a superior court judge, a district judge, a judge of probate, an assistant judge, a justice of the peace or an ordained or licensed member of the clergy residing in Vermont can marry you or certify your civil union. A clergy person residing in an adjoining state or country can marry you or certify your civil union if his or her church, temple, mosque, or other religious organization lies wholly or partly in Vermont. A clergy member residing in some other state or in Canada can marry you or certify your civil union if he or she first obtains a special authorization from the probate court in the district where the marriage/certification will take place. Vermont law does not require witnesses, but, if you are planning a religious ceremony, check to see if the religion's tenets require witnesses.

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What do we do with the license? What happens to it after the ceremony?

By law, you must deliver the license to the person who will marry you or certify your union (officiant). After the ceremony, the officiant will complete the sections concerning the date, place and officiant information, and sign your license. At that point, the license becomes a marriage/civil union certificate. The officiant must return the certificate to the town clerk's office where it was issued within 10 days of the wedding/certification, so that it can be officially registered. The certificate is not a complete legal document until it has been recorded in the town clerk's office where it was purchased.

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How do we get a copy of our marriage/civil union certificate?

At the time you buy your license, you can arrange with the town clerk to mail you a certified copy of your certificate as soon as it has been recorded. The cost is $7.00 for the certified copy along with the $23 for the license purchase ($7 + $23 = $30.00).

OR

Two weeks or more after the marriage/certification, you can request, in person or in writing, additional copies from the town clerk's office where you bought your license for the same $7 fee.

OR

Six or more weeks after your marriage/certification, you may request, in person or in writing, a certified copy from the Vermont Department of Health, Vital Records Unit for $9.50. In either case, you will receive a copy of the original certificate, embossed with the town or state seal, signed and dated by the appropriate official. This copy is accepted for all legal purposes as proof of a valid marriage/civil union.

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WARNING to NON-RESIDENTS who wish to join in Civil Union

It is easy to get a civil union in Vermont, but it may be hard to dissolve the civil union later.

The Vermont Family Court only has authority to consider a dissolution when at least one member of the couple has been a resident of Vermont for at least one year preceding the date of the final hearing of the dissolution. Nonresident couples should consult with a domestic relations attorney in their home state to see whether the courts in their state will consider the dissolution action.

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How are Civil Unions Dissolved?

The Vermont family court has jurisdiction over all proceedings relating to the dissolution of civil unions. The dissolution of civil unions follows the same procedures and is subject to the same substantive rights and obligations that are involved in the dissolution of marriages, including any residency requirements. 18 V.S.A. § 1206

It is unclear how other states may handle a civil union dissolution. However, in Vermont, a residency requirement exists for dissolving either a marriage or a civil union. A complaint to dissolve a civil union in Vermont may be brought if either party to the civil union has resided within the state for a period of six months or more, but dissolution cannot be granted unless one of the parties has resided in the state at least one year preceding the date of the final hearing.

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This information was obtained from the Vital Records Unit of the Vermont Department of Health, and the Vermont Secretary of State. If you have questions that are not answered, contact your Town Clerk or the Vital Records Unit of the Vermont Department of Health at 802-863-7275 / 800-439-5008. When contacting them, please mention you found their information on VERMONT.COM.

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