Every year, thousands of couples flock to Las Vegas in order to get married. Because of this popularity as a wedding destination, Las Vegas has come to be known as the “Marriage Capital of the World.”
In 2012, Clark County issued over 86,000 marriage licenses, a number far greater than the licenses issued by significantly more populous counties. Nevada’s popularity as a marriage destination is due in large part to relatively lax legal requirements for marriage.
Despite this lax reputation, the decision to get married carries with it significant legal implications in Nevada. Though marriage is undoubtedly a joyful and memorable occasion in the lives of a couple, it is also an important decision that affects many legal rights of the couple.
Like any legal decision, the decision to get married should not be made lightly. Nobody likes to think about their marriage coming to an end. But unfortunately, many marriages end in divorce in Nevada. An experienced Las Vegas family law attorney can ensure that your rights are protected through Nevada prenuptial agreements and other premarital contracts in the event of divorce.
If you are thinking of getting married, contact us today.
“Marriage” Defined in Nevada
Few people think of marriage as a contractual arrangement. But the fact of the matter is that in addition to being a solemnization of a couple’s love, marriage is a civil contract between husband and wife. And like any contract, there are certain requirements that must be met for the marriage to be valid.
Because marriage is a civil contract, both parties must legally consent to the marriage. However consent alone does not make a marriage valid, Nevada law also requires a solemnization ceremony.
Who can be married in Nevada?
Under Nevada law, two people who are at least 18 years of age, who are no more closely related than second cousins or cousins of half blood, and who do not have a living husband or wife, may be married.
A person 17 years old can marry with the consent of either parent or legal guardian and after the court has an evidentiary hearing. The court has to find that finds marriage is in the minor’s best interests. The court will consider the following three factors:
- The age difference;
- The need for the marriage; and
- The minor’s emotional and intellectual maturity
Pregnancy alone does not establish that the best interests of such person will be served by marriage, nor may pregnancy be required by a court as a condition necessary for its authorization for the marriage of such person.
What is the marriage process in Nevada?
Before a couple can be married in Nevada, they first need a marriage license. The marriage license must be obtained from a county clerk in Nevada.
Before issuing the marriage license, the county clerk in Nevada will require proof of each marriage applicant’s name and age. Name and age may be proved by any of the following:
- A driver’s license, driver’s permit, or a state-issued ID;
- A passport;
- A birth certificate; and
- Any secondary document that contains the name and photograph of the applicant.
If the applicant appears clearly over the age of 25, no documentation of proof of age is required in Nevada.
Once documentation of age and identity is provided, the Nevada county clerk will then require each marriage applicant to answer the identifying questions contained on the marriage license under oath. Each marriage applicant must also provide their social security number on the license application.
The Nevada marriage license authorizes any minister or other authorized person to conduct the marriage solemnization ceremony. A Nevada marriage license expires one year after the date it was issued.
Who is authorized to conduct Nevada marriage solemnization ceremonies?
Any licensed, ordained, or appointed minister in good standing with their church is authorized to perform the marriage ceremony in Nevada. Additionally, judges and other government officials may administer civil marriage solemnization ceremonies.
Is there a specific form the solemnization ceremony must take in Nevada?
No. In Nevada, no particular form of solemnization ceremony is required. However, there must be at least one witness to the ceremony and the couple must declare, in the presence of the minister, judge, or other authorized person and the witness, that they take each other as husband and wife.
Does Nevada allow gay marriage?
Yes. There are also other civil unions available to same-sex couples which may provide similar rights and protections as marriage in Nevada.
Why should I hire an attorney?
Marriage affects many important legal rights. Like any contract, it should not be entered into lightly. An experienced Nevada family law attorney will help guide you through the process and help you ensure that your interests are protected via premarital agreements and other agreements in the unforeseeable event your marriage comes to an end.
Also see our articles on domestic partnerships in Nevada, how to get a legal name change in Nevada, annulments in Nevada, and legal separation in Nevada, and Common Law Marriage – Is it a thing in Nevada?