2020 Georgia Code
Title 19 - Domestic Relations
Chapter 3 - Marriage Generally
Article 2 - License and Ceremony
§ 19-3-30. Issuance, Return, and Recording of License

Universal Citation: GA Code § 19-3-30 (2020)
  1. Marriage licenses shall be issued only by the judge of the probate court or his clerk at the county courthouse between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., Monday through Saturday.
    1. No marriage license shall be issued to persons of the same sex.
    2. If one of the persons to be married is a resident of this state, the license may be issued in any county of this state. If neither the male nor the female to be married is a resident of this state, the license shall be issued in the county in which the ceremony is to be performed.
  2. The license shall be directed to the Governor or any former Governor of this state, any judge, including judges of state and federal courts of record in this state, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other person of any religious society or sect authorized by the rules of such society to perform the marriage ceremony; such license shall authorize the marriage of the persons therein named and require the Governor or any former Governor of this state, judge, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other authorized person to return the license to the judge of the probate court with the certificate thereon as to the fact and date of marriage within 30 days after the date of the marriage. The license with the return thereon shall be recorded by the judge in a book kept by such judge for that purpose.
  3. The fact of issue of any unrecorded marriage license may be established by affidavit of either party to a ceremonial marriage, which affidavit shall set forth the date, the place, and the name and title of the official issuing the license.
  4. In the event that any marriage license is not returned for recording, as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, either party to a ceremonial marriage may establish the marriage by submitting to the judge of the probate court the affidavits of two witnesses to the marriage ceremony setting forth the date, the place, and the name of the official or minister performing the ceremony. The judge shall thereupon reissue the marriage license and enter thereon the certificate of marriage and all dates and names in accordance with the evidence submitted and shall record and cross-index same in the proper chronological order in the book kept for that purpose.
  5. Any other provisions of this Code section or any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, the judge of the probate court of any county which has within its boundaries a municipality that has a population according to the United States decennial census of 1950 or any future such census greater than that of the county seat of the county is authorized to appoint a clerk for the purpose of granting marriage licenses in the municipality at an office designated by the judge. The licenses shall be issued only between the hours prescribed in subsection (a) of this Code section.

(Laws 1805, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 282; Laws 1809, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 282; Ga. L. 1851-52, p. 49, § 1; Code 1863, §§ 1659, 1663; Code 1868, §§ 1702, 1706; Code 1873, §§ 1703, 1707; Code 1882, §§ 1703, 1707; Civil Code 1895, §§ 2417, 2421; Civil Code 1910, §§ 2936, 2940; Ga. L. 1924, p. 53, § 1; Code 1933, §§ 53-201, 53-211; Ga. L. 1956, p. 43, § 1; Ga. L. 1960, p. 179, § 1; Ga. L. 1965, p. 335, § 2; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 19; Ga. L. 1983, p. 884, § 4-1; Ga. L. 1984, p. 1192, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 409, § 1; Ga. L. 1996, p. 624, § 2; Ga. L. 1997, p. 1592, § 1; Ga. L. 2010, p. 394, § 1/SB 238.)

Cross references.

- Authority of retired judge or judge emeritus of a state court to perform marriage ceremonies, § 15-7-25.

Maintenance of records of marriage licenses, § 31-10-21.

Law reviews.

- For article, "Conflict of Laws Structure and Vision: Updating a Venerable Discipline," see 31 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 231 (2015). For comment, "By the Power Vested in Me? Licensing Religious Officials to Solemnize Marriage in the Age of Same-Sex Marriage," see 63 Emory L. J. 979 (2014).


Public record of ceremonial marriage is conclusive evidence of such marriage, in the absence of a timely direct attack on such record, which attack must be supported by proper proof. Guess v. Guess, 202 Ga. 364, 43 S.E.2d 326 (1947).

Marriage certificate produced in alimony action presumed valid unless directly attacked.

- In an action for alimony, after plaintiff introduces a certified copy of a marriage certificate, no issue as to the validity of the marriage is made in the absence of a direct attack on the record by the defendant. Guess v. Guess, 202 Ga. 364, 43 S.E.2d 326 (1947).

In action for alimony, evidence of defendant denying marriage was without probative value to contradict or disprove the written record of a ceremonial marriage between the parties in absence of direct attack on record showing ceremonial marriage. Guess v. Guess, 202 Ga. 364, 43 S.E.2d 326 (1947).

License valid when ceremony performed, and license issued, in another state.

- Failure to issue a marriage license in the county where the female resident resides does not invalidate the license if the ceremony was performed in another state and a valid license was issued in that state. Perry v. Perry, 173 Ga. App. 247, 326 S.E.2d 481 (1985).

Cited in Maryland Cas. Co. v. Teele, 70 Ga. App. 259, 28 S.E.2d 193 (1943); Levin v. Blumberg, 223 Ga. 865, 159 S.E.2d 66 (1968).


License must be issued and ceremony performed in same county when female is nonresident.

- There is only one occasion where there is a requirement that the license be issued and the ceremony be performed in the same county and that is when the female is not a resident of the State of Georgia. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 66-175.

Justice of the peace is authorized to perform marriage ceremony at any place a judge, city recorder, or minister might perform such ceremony. 1963-65 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 329; 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-178.

Out-of-state judge has the authority to perform a marriage ceremony in Georgia. 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U98-5.

Judges emeriti may perform ceremonies.

- When a statute separate from the Emeritus Act provides that the ministerial act of performing a marriage ceremony may be carried out by any judge, a judge of the superior courts emeritus may perform that function. 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U75-3.

City recorder may perform marriages outside municipality.

- City recorder, authorized by to perform marriage ceremonies, was not restricted to performing such ceremonies within the territorial limits of the city in which the person serves as recorder. 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U75-96.

Officiant's failure to return license does not invalidate marriage.

- Law was a direction to the officer or minister and the failure to return the license with the certificate within the 30 days would not have any effect upon the validity of the marriage or the validity of the marriage's record. 1957 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 95.

No witnesses are required to be present at marriage ceremony in order to make the marriage legal; this state recognizes common-law marriage, and no ceremony is actually essential to the validity of the marriage. 1970 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U70-148.

Probate judge may not decline to perform a marriage ceremony for the reason that the parties are not of the same race. 1983 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U83-31.

Person may have several residences, but only one place of domicile. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.

"Resides" in O.C.G.A. § 19-3-30 was intended to refer to "legal residence" or "domicile" rather than mere "residence," since a later section, O.C.G.A. § 19-3-45, only provides for liability of probate court judge who issues marriage license to female who, to the judge's knowledge, is domiciled in another county. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.

Acquisition of domicile.

- Domicile is only acquired through concurrence of actual, physical residence and intention to remain. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.

Generally, minor child cannot change domicile of own volition.

- Modern case law does not support idea of allowing a minor child to change the child's domicile of the child's own volition when that child has living parents whose rights have not been voluntarily or involuntarily relinquished. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.

Domicile of minor is that of the minor's parents, but this can be altered when usual parental authority and control over minor is ended by voluntary or involuntary relinquishment. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.

Marriage license may be issued to minor female only in county of her parents' domicile in absence of certain exceptions. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.

Previous marriage of minor female allows change in her domicile.

- Previous marriage of minor female, with or without parents' consent, not only emancipates her from her parents' control, but also allows change in her domicile. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-5.

Probate judge may lawfully perform marriage ceremony in county other than one in which judge is elected and in which judge serves. 1980 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U80-7.

Prohibition on attorneys or clerks performing ceremony.

- Neither attorneys appointed pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-9-13(a), nor the clerks of the probate court, may perform marriage ceremonies, in that such power is inherently a personal one of the probate judge pursuant to subsection (c) of O.C.G.A. § 19-3-30. 1988 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U88-22.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 52 Am. Jur. 2d, Marriage, §§ 30, 33 et seq.


- 55 C.J.S., Marriage, §§ 26, 29, 33, 46.


- Validity of solemnized marriage as affected by absence of license required by statute, 61 A.L.R.2d 847.

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