Know how to tie the knot right

Thursday, August 4, 2022

You’ve set the date and you’re ready to cut the cake. Now what? Getting married is a big decision that starts just like every other big decision: with paperwork.

The first step on your journey to forever is to obtain a Marriage License from the Clerk of Court. The future spouses need to head over to the courthouse, located at 207 W. Bell Street, equipped with valid photo IDs. If either spouse has been married before, a certified copy of the Divorce Decree is required. Each spouse needs to know the city and state of their birth, their social security number, their mother’s maiden name, and their current address. After satisfying each of these elements, a $53.00 cash-only filing fee is due to the Court. The Marriage License becomes effective upon issuance and signifies the happy couple is now free to hold a local ceremony or elope to anywhere in Montana sometime within 180 days. It should go without saying,

It should go without saying, but a Marriage License may not be obtained while either party is intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics.

Minors looking to hitch their wagons are encouraged to first think seriously about their decision, and then read Montana Code Annotated §40-1-213 meticulously before going before a judge.

Finally, before welding that ball and chain, the happy couple should make sure their officiant is recognized by the great State of Montana to perform the ceremony. While being married by a friend is trendy these days, Montana requires a qualified individual to solemnize a marriage. This person may be a District Court Judge, the Justice of the Peace or City Judge, a public official whose state-granted authority includes the solemnization of marriages, the Mayor, a Tribal Judge, or any individual with solemnization authority recognized by any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe, or Indigenous group. So if your friend’s cousin’s uncle has not taken any steps to have solemnization authority, your something borrowed may just be a headache.

Individuals considering marriage should look at the Montana Code beginning with Section 40 titled Family Law for guidance. Reading legal documents is never fun (even for lawyers) but your future self will thank you. If anyone has questions not covered by the Code, feel free to contact the Clerk of District Court at (406) 377-3967.

Best wishes on your nuptials.

Lindsay Whalen

Law Clerk