Ohio Marriage Laws

Article XV, Section 11 of the Ohio Constitution provides in part that "only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. Ohio Revised Code 3101.01(A) also provides that a marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman. However, on June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court decided in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that Ohio's constitutional proscription against same sex marriage violates both due process and equal protection as contained in the the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and that the State must allow same-sex couples to marry "on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex." In order to comply with the Obergefell decision, the probate courts of Ohio will now grant marriage licenses to same sex couples in the same manner that marriage licenses would be issued to couples of the opposite sex.

Ohio Revised Code Section 3101.01(C)(1) provides that the marriage of two persons of the same sex shall have no legal force or effect in this state.  This provision prevented Ohio from recognizing a same sex marriage which was lawful, valid and recognized in the state which issued the marriage license. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court held that there is no lawful basis for the State of Ohio to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another state on the grounds of its same-sex character.



Male persons 18 years of age or older, and  female persons 16 years or older may marry. (O.R.C. Section 3101.01(A)) Parties seeking to marry may not be nearer of kin than second cousins. (O.R.C. Section 3101.01(A)) Neither party seeking to marry may have a husband or wife living. If the former spouse of one seeking to marry is not deceased, the person seeking to marry and the former spouse must have been legally divorced or had their marriage annulled by a court of law. (O.R.C. Section 3101.01(A)) A minor generally may not enter into a marriage without the consent of a) both parents, or b) the sole surviving parent, or c) the residential parent and legal custodian as designated by a court of competent jurisdiction, or d) a guardian as appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction, or e) one of the following who have been awarded permanent custody of the minor by a court exercising juvenile jurisdiction: 1)¬† an adult person 2) the department of job and family services or any certified child welfare organization 3) a public children services agency. (O.R.C. Section 3101.01(A))

If the minor has no parent, guardian, or custodian whose consent is required, then the juvenile court of the county in which the female resides may give consent for the marriage. (Ohio Juvenile Rule 42(A)) If the female seeking to marry is pregnant or has delivered a child out of wedlock, and either parent is under the minimum age for marriage the parties seeking to marry shall apply to the juvenile court of the county in which the female resides for consent to marry.
(Ohio Juvenile Rule 42(C)).


Generally, both persons seeking a marriage license are required to personally appear at the probate court of the county in Ohio where either applicant resides. If neither applicant is a resident of Ohio, the couple should make application in the county where the ceremony is to be performed. The requirement that both applicants personally appear to apply may be excused by the court only if one of the parties is unable to appear due to illness or other physical disability which is documented by an affidavit from a practicing physician who resides in the county where the application is being made. (O.R.C. Section 3101.05(A))
Applicants who were previously married will need to provide the following information: names of the parties to the previous marriage, names of any minor children born of the previous marriage, and if divorced, the jurisdiction, date and case number of the decree of divorce. It is strongly recommended that you bring a copy of the divorce decree with you when you appear at the probate court to apply for your marriage license. (O.R.C. Section 3101.05(A)). The probate court is not permitted to issue a marriage license if either applicant is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. (O.R.C. Section 3101.06). The cost to make application for a marriage license in Allen County Probate Court is now $50.00 and is payable in cash at the time the application is made. There is no refund if for any reason the license is not issued by the Court, or if the marriage is not performed after the license has been issued.


The wedding must be performed within sixty (60) days after the license is issued by the probate court. If not performed within sixty days, the license expires and a new application for marriage license will need to be submitted. (O.R.C. Section 3101.07) WHO CAN PERFORM THE WEDDING CEREMONY? Generally, a wedding may be performed by any ordained or licensed minister of any religious society or congregation, but that person must be licensed to solemnize marriages in the State of Ohio. A registry of persons licensed to solemnize marriages in this state is available from the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State at www.sos.state.oh.us , and you are encouraged to check that listing to confirm that the minister you intend to have perform the ceremony is properly licenses to do so.
Weddings may also be performed by municipal, probate and county court judges and by municipal mayors. (O.R.C. Section 3101.08) The person performing the ceremony is required to return the certificate  of marriage to the probate court that issued the license not later than thirty (30) days after the wedding is performed. (O.R.C. Section 3101.13)  

Link to Ohio State Bar Association LawFacts Pamphlet "Marriage Laws"