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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Find answers to common questions in our searchable FAQ.

23758 views   |   36   |   Last updated on Feb 21, 2023    COVID-19 Family Law Marriage

Texas law does not provide many details about the actual marriage ceremony and how it may be conducted. The law does not explicitly say whether an officiant can conduct a ceremony from a remote location using software like Zoom or Skype. In some counties like Travis and Tarrant, the justices of the peace offer ceremonies using videoconferencing software. There are also news reports from Houston and Austin of wedding ceremonies using Zoom or similar software during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your county's justice of the peace website or county clerk website may offer details about a “Zoom wedding.”

If you still have doubts or questions after reviewing the information on this page, you should seek advice from an attorney.

What Does the Law Say About Marriage Ceremonies?

Texas law does not regulate where the ceremony can or cannot take place. It only requires that the license list the county where the ceremony was performed.

Regarding the ceremony itself, the law says it must take place within 90 days of when the marriage license is issued. There's a 72-hour waiting period between the issuance of the license and the ceremony, with some exceptions. Only certain people are authorized to conduct the ceremony. The law does not address what should be done or said during the ceremony. After the ceremony, the officiant updates the license and returns it to the county clerk within 30 days. The county clerk then records and returns the marriage license.

You can read these laws in Chapter 2, Subchapter C of the Texas Family Code or by visiting the Conducting the Ceremony page of our Marriage in Texas guide.

What If I Can't Attend the Ceremony?

Marriage by proxy is when one person is unable to attend the ceremony and authorizes another adult to fill in for them during the ceremony. Marriage by proxy is not available to everyone. It is limited to certain military members stationed in another country who are unable to attend the ceremony. The law allows that person to designate another adult who can act as a proxy during the ceremony. In these cases, Chapter 2 of the Texas Family Code requires that an affidavit be submitted to the county clerk when applying for the marriage license.

Why Does it Matter If the Officiant Is Somewhere Else?

Marriage laws vary widely across the country. It is possible that legal issues may arise if an officiant is in a different legal jurisdiction than the couple. Some jurisdictions may require the couple and the officiant to appear in person during the ceremony. This article on Skype weddings from American Marriage Ministries provides some examples of jurisdictions in the U.S. that have these types of requirements.

As librarians, we cannot advise you on whether your marriage ceremony would be considered legal. An attorney could advise you on the laws you must comply with if you are considering conducting your marriage ceremony across jurisdictional boundaries.

What If We Make a Mistake?

Section 2.301 of the Family Code addresses the validity of marriage if there was a mistake in obtaining a marriage license:

Except as otherwise provided by this chapter, the validity of a marriage is not affected by any fraud, mistake, or illegality that occurred in obtaining the marriage license.

For more information about Texas marriage laws, see the library's Marriage in Texas guide.

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