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Kentucky Court Records

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Kentucky Marriage Records

Marriage records are state documents that provide proof of voluntary marriage between two people and contain details of said marriages. Marriage records will include the following information:

  • The spouses' names
  • The location of the marriage ceremony
  • The day the marriage took place
  • The name of the official who oversaw the marriage
  • Details of individuals who witnessed the marriage.

Two bodies in Kentucky preserve marriage records. They are the Office of Vital Statistics and the  Offices of Kentucky County Clerks. The Office of Vital Statistics possesses marriage records dating back to June 1958. However, if a person is looking for records of marriages before 1958, they would have to contact the county clerk where the marriage license was issued.

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Kentucky

Multiple types of marriage records containing different information are available in Kentucky. Two common examples are marriage certificates and licenses. 

Marriage Certificate:

A marriage certificate indicates a voluntary marriage has occurred between two people. It is a document that is awarded upon completion of a marriage ceremony. It is irrefutable proof of marriage. A marriage certificate will typically contain the following information. 

  • Names of spouses
  • Location of the marriage ceremony
  • Date of the marriage ceremony
  • Name of the official who oversaw the marriage

Marriage certificates are publicly available and, therefore, can be accessed by the public. However, only authorized persons can receive a certified copy of a marriage certificate. An authorized person includes:

  • A party whose name is on the certificate.
  • Immediate family members of the spouses (parents, siblings, and children).
  • Legal representatives of the parties.
  • Authorized government officials.

Marriage License:

A marriage license is a document issued by a county to spouses-to-be that serves as permission to get married. Any couple wishing to get married in Kentucky will need to obtain a marriage license before the marriage ceremony. If they do not, the marriage will be seen as void. Parties can license from the Offices of Kentucky County Clerks

Marriage licenses are only valid for thirty days; recipients must conduct the marriage ceremony within that time.

Note: Marriage licenses can only be awarded to parties over 18. Although, the state makes provisions for people below 18 to acquire marriage licenses. Individuals aged 17 must make an order by the District Court available to the County Clerk before applying for a marriage license. 

Are Kentucky Marriage Records Public?

Yes, Kentucky marriage records are public and can be accessed by interested individuals. They will be available to any individual who has enough information to conduct a record search. The following details will be needed to search:

  • Full names of spouses, including the bride's maiden name.
  • Date of the marriage.
  • County where the marriage license was issued. 

However, only authorized persons may have access to certified copies of marriage records. These persons include spouses whose names appear on the document, immediate family members, and legal representatives. 

Note: Marriage records are more difficult to find than other public records because they contain personal information of the parties and their maintenance is critical if alterations are to be made. Therefore, they may not be readily accessible through government sources or public third-party websites.

How to Find Marriage Records in Kentucky

There are two bodies responsible for keeping and maintaining marriage records in Kentucky—the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics (OVS) and the county clerk's office that issued the marriage license. Interested members of the public can contact either office to conduct a marriage search.

For the Office of Vital Statistics, interested parties can visit the Office’s website or go to the physical address at:

 Office of Vital Statistics

Cabinet of Health and Family Services

275 East Main Street, 1E-A

Frankfort, KY 40621

The following information is needed for someone to complete a marriage record search.

  • The record case number
  • The full name of the parties involved
  • The particular documents they require;
  • The filing and marriage dates
  • Their contact information, such as their phone number or email address, in case any inquiries about the requested data should come up.

While marriage records are available to the public, only authorized persons may have access to certified copies of marriage records. An authorized person could be:

  • A spouse whose name is on the document.
  • An immediate family member, such as a father, mother, brothers, sisters and children.
  • An Attorney.
  • An official of the government. This could be law enforcement.

Note: Marriage records are not proof that someone is still married. To know if someone is still married, someone can look at divorce records in the state. Divorce records are kept and maintained the same way as marriage records. 

How to Get a Marriage License in Kentucky

While marriage certificates prove two people are married, marriage licenses simply permit them to get married. No marriage ceremony can be conducted without a marriage license. Spouses-to-be can take the following steps to obtain a marriage license:

  • Visit the county clerk of the county where you want to get married. 
  • Fill out the marriage license application form at the county clerk's office. The form can also be completed online but should still be brought to the clerk’s office. The following information should be included in an application form:
  1. Each applicant’s name and address.
  2. Date of birth and current age of each applicant.
  3. Place of birth of each applicant. If the applicant was born in Kentucky, they should provide the county; if they were born in another state, they should provide the state.
  4. Parents’ names of each applicant. In the case of mothers, first and maiden names should be provided.
  5. Current marital status of each applicant
  6. Number of previous marriages of each applicant
  7. Occupation of each applicant
  8. Race of each applicant
  9. Relationship between applicants (if applicable; first and second cousins cannot marry in KY)
  10. Proposed date of marriage
  • Both spouses must bring means of identification, such as a driver’s license, ID card or an international passport.
  • Pay the $50 licensing fee.
  • The license will be issued once the application has been submitted along with the necessary identification and payment of the application fee. 
  • Kentucky residents may have to wait around 30 days before they can receive their marriage license. 

Applicants aged 17 will need to provide a court order from a District Court to apply for a marriage license in their county. 

Note: A marriage license is only valid for 30 days in Kentucky. Therefore, the marriage ceremony is within that time, unless another marriage license is required. 

Who can obtain Marriage Records in Kentucky?

While any Kentucky resident can access marriage records, only authorized persons can obtain certified copies of the records. Authorized persons include:

  • The party whose name is in the marriage certificate, license or affidavit. 
  • Immediate family members of the spouses-to-be. This includes fathers, mothers, children, and siblings.
  • Legal representatives of the proposed spouses. 
  • Authorized government officials such as law enforcement.

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Kentucky

Yes, you can look up marriage records online for free. For instance, you can visit the Office of Vital Statistics’s website or the county clerk’s website to request a marriage record. It is important to note that you may need to pay extra fees if you are requesting a certified copy. 

You can also utilize third-party websites to look for marriage records online for free in Kentucky. Third-party websites are very convenient to use since interested persons can access them from home. They are also time-saving as they tend to have a quicker response time than government websites. Lastly, searching on third-party websites is more flexible. You can use details such as names, dates, and locations to search for marriage records. 

Note: Despite being convenient to use, some third-party websites may come with a fee. 

Is Kentucky a Common Law State for Marriage?

A common law marriage is a situation where two people cohabitate, present and take the actions of a typical couple without obtaining a marriage license or conducting a ceremony. While Kentucky does not recognize or allow common-law marriages, it recognizes common-law marriages that occur in a state where such marriages are valid. 

However, some cities in Kentucky offer benefits to couples who are in a domestic partnership. These benefits are called domestic partner benefits and are for cohabiting partners who do not want to get married. These benefits typically include:

  • Health benefits like health insurance coverage and dental benefits
  • Life insurance benefits
  • Death benefits
  • Parental rights to dependent children or a domestic partner's child
  • Sick leave and family member medical leave
  • Bereavement leave

Berea, Covington, and Louisville are the three cities that offer residents domestic partner benefits. Couples in these cities are eligible if they have stayed in the same residence for a year and are financially interdependent.

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