2021 Georgia Code
Title 19 - Domestic Relations
Chapter 3 - Marriage Generally
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 19-3-2. Who May Contract Marriage; Emancipation Requirement; Minimum Age for Marriage

Universal Citation: GA Code § 19-3-2 (2021)
  1. To be able to contract marriage, a person must:
    1. Be of sound mind;
    2. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, be at least 18 years of age;
    3. Have no living spouse of a previous undissolved marriage. The dissolution of a previous marriage in divorce proceedings must be affirmatively established and will not be presumed. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to affect the legitimacy of children; and
    4. Not be related to the prospective spouse by blood or marriage within the prohibited degrees.
  2. If either applicant for marriage is 17 years of age, documentary proof that such applicant was emancipated by operation of law or pursuant to a petition filed with the court as provided in Article 10 of Chapter 11 of Title 15 shall be required before a license may be issued pursuant to Article 2 of this chapter; provided, in addition, that:
    1. If the emancipation was pursuant to a petition filed with the court, a certified copy of the order providing for the emancipation shall be provided as documentary proof;
    2. At least 15 days shall have passed since such emancipation shall have occurred by operation of law or pursuant to a petition filed with the court;
    3. The older party to the marriage contract shall not be more than four years older than the younger party to the marriage contract; and
    4. Each party to the marriage contract who is 17 years of age shall present a certificate of completion of premarital education as provided under Code Section 19-3-30.1.
  3. No license provided for under Article 2 of this chapter shall be issued for the marriage of any party who is under 17 years of age.

(Orig. Code 1863, § 1654; Code 1868, § 1698; Code 1873, § 1699; Code 1882, § 1699; Civil Code 1895, § 2412; Civil Code 1910, § 2931; Code 1933, § 53-102; Ga. L. 1957, p. 83, § 1; Ga. L. 1962, p. 138, § 1; Ga. L. 1963, p. 485, § 1; Ga. L. 1965, p. 335, § 1; Ga. L. 1965, p. 500, § 1; Ga. L. 1976, p. 1719, § 1; Ga. L. 1979, p. 872, § 1; Ga. L. 1999, p. 81, § 19; Ga. L. 2006, p. 141, § 6A/HB 847; Ga. L. 2019, p. 558, § 1-1/HB 228.)

The 2019 amendment, effective July 1, 2019, substituted the present provisions of subsection (b) for the former provisions, which read: "If either applicant for marriage is 16 or 17 years of age, parental consent as provided in Code Section 19-3-37 shall be required."; and added subsection (c).

Cross references.

- Bigamy and marrying a bigamist, §§ 16-6-20,16-6-21.

Law reviews.

- For article recommending more consistency in age requirements of laws pertaining to the welfare of minors, see 6 Ga. St. B.J. 189 (1969). For article advocating reamendment of this Code section to recognize the presumption favoring validity of subsequent marriages, see 21 Mercer L. Rev. 465 (1970). For article on 2006 amendment of this Code section, see 23 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 79 (2006). For article, "A Holy Secular Institution," see 58 Emory L.J. 1123 (2009). For article, "Conflict of Laws Structure and Vision: Updating a Venerable Discipline," see 31 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 231 (2015).



  • General Consideration
  • Sound Mind
  • Age
  • Previous Undisclosed Marriage

Former Code 1933, § 53-107 (see now O.C.G.A. § 19-3-36) took precedence over former Code 1933, § 53-102 (see now O.C.G.A. § 19-3-2) insofar as a conflict existed between the two statutes; when documentary proof of an applicant's age was required only a birth or baptismal certificate will suffice. 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U75-5.

Marriage performed before final divorce decree issues as to one of parties is void. 1954-56 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 150.

Marriage between first cousins not being prohibited by former Code 1933, § 53-105 (see now O.C.G.A. § 19-3-3), such marriage was legal and proper in this state. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-107.

Person who has been declared incompetent cannot enter into valid marriage, whether the marriage is performed by a minister or arises by declaration through common-law cohabitation; only a court can adjudicate the existence of a marital relationship in a specific case based on a set of particular circumstances. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 66-69.

Physician's certificate is not required to be in affidavit form; the law only contemplates that a physician's certificate be presented, and that the certificate bear the signature of the physician; thus, any reasonable form of certification by the physician would appear to suffice. 1963-65 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 771.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 52 Am. Jur. 2d, Marriage, §§ 16 et seq., 38.

1D Am. Jur. Pleading and Practice Forms, Annulment of Marriage, §§ 2, 18, 27 et seq., 36, 59.


- 55 C.J.S., Marriage, §§ 10 et seq., 16, 17, 24.


- Mental capacity to marry, 28 A.L.R. 635; 82 A.L.R.2d 1040.

Incompetency to marry because of other marital relations as affecting breach of promise, 47 A.L.R. 400.

Right of heir, next of kin, or other person interested in decedent's estate to attack his marriage on ground of his mental incompetency, 57 A.L.R. 131.

Right to attack validity of marriage after death of party thereto, 76 A.L.R. 769; 47 A.L.R.2d 1393.

Validity of marriage celebrated while spouse by former marriage of one of the parties was living and undivorced, in reliance upon presumption from lapse of time of death of such spouse, 93 A.L.R. 345; 144 A.L.R. 747.

Ratification of marriage by one under age, upon attaining marriageable age, 159 A.L.R. 104.

Presumption as to validity of second marriage, 14 A.L.R.2d 7.

Right to attack validity of marriage after death of party thereto, 47 A.L.R.2d 1393.

Acts in connection with marriage of infant below marriageable age as contributing to delinquency, 68 A.L.R.2d 745.

Conflict of laws as to validity of marriage attacked because of nonage, 71 A.L.R.2d 687.

Marriage between persons of the same sex, 81 A.L.R.5th 1.

Validity, construction, and application of state enactment, order, or regulation expressly prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, 82 A.L.R.5th 1.

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