Family Law : Marriage

What are the legal implications of marriage?

Marriage is a legal as well as a spiritual and personal relationship. When you repeat your marriage vows, you enter into a legal contract. There are three parties to that legal contract:

1) you;

2) your spouse; and

3) the State of Ohio.

The State is a party to the contract because under its laws, you have certain obligations and responsibilities to each other, to any children you may have, and to Ohio.

What are the requirements to marry in Ohio?

To marry in Ohio, a male and female must be of sufficient age and mental capacity to marry. For further information, the Ohio State Bar Association’s web site provides this pamphlet: Ohio’s Marriage Laws .

What is the legal age of marriage in Ohio?

The legal age of marriage for men is 18 years of age, but the legal age of marriage for women is 16 years of age. A woman under the age of 18 years, but over 16 years of age, must obtain the consent of both her parents to the marriage in order to enter into a valid marriage with a man.


Is there “common law” marriage in Ohio?

Common law marriage in Ohio was abolished effective October 10, 1991.  Any persons who entered into a valid common law marriage before that date are still valid, but no couples could create a new common law marriage under Ohio law after that date.  However, if parties entered into a valid common law marriage in another state and they moved to Ohio, Ohio will recognize the validity of a common law marriage that was established under the laws of the other state.

A common law marriage is a marriage where the parties do not obtain a marriage certificate or otherwise perform the formalities of a ceremonial marriage, but are married because they agreed between themselves to be married, represented themselves to other people and agencies as being married persons, and have a reputation among their friends, neighbors, community, etc. for being married.  Before 1991, common law marriage was fairly common in Ohio.  However, since then Ohio (as well as nearly all other states) have abolished common law marriage.

For more information on domestic violence visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Resource Center.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

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