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Arkansas Marriage Records

Arkansas marriage records are public documents that provide information on recorded marriage events in the state. These records may generally provide the following details:

  • The birth names of the couple. 
  • The date and location of the marriage event. 
  • Information on the previous marital status of the couple. 
  • The name of the officiating priest or minister. 
  • The couple's primary residence. 
  • Names of witnesses at the event. This list may include those in the couple's family or social circles. 

However, marriage records in Arkansas do not contain the following details:

  • The couple's date of birth. 
  • The parent's names. 

Interested parties may access marriage records in document or microfilm format. Furthermore, you'll find these formats at the Office of the County Clerk, where the event was recorded. The Arkansas Digital Archive also holds microfilm of marriage records between 1933 and 1939.

Note: Under Arkansas state laws, divorcees must provide a divorce certificate when applying for a marriage license. The information is later recorded in the marriage record.

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Arkansas?

Marriage records generally include marriage certificates and licenses issued in Arkansas. Interested record seekers may find these documents at specific state and local agencies. The Arkansas Department of Health is the state-level custodian of marriage records documented after 1917. However, you'll find marriage records before and after 1917 at the office of the County Clerk. 

What are Marriage Certificates in Arkansas? 

Marriage certificates are legal documents that prove a marriage event occurred. You can request a copy of the certificate at custodian agencies. However, these agencies will only release marriage records created within 50 years to:

  1. The record subjects 
  2. Parents or guardians of the record subjects
  3. Designated legal representatives. 
  4. Designated state or federal agents. 
  5. Other authorized persons, such as funeral directors acting on behalf of the record subject 

What are Marriage Licenses in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, marriage licenses are legal documents proving both parties are legally eligible to marry. The county clerk is directly responsible for providing the license to eligible participants. Under state laws, intending couples must fulfill these requirements:

  • Must be over 18 years old. 
  • Must provide a valid identification, such as a passport or driver's license. 

Note: Arkansas marriage licenses have a 60-day validity period, after which they become invalid. After the marriage event, the officiating minister returns a copy of the license to the county clerk.

Are Arkansas Marriage Records Public?

Yes. Under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, marriage records in Arkansas are classified as public documents. However, only qualified record seekers can obtain records below 50 years old from custodian agencies in the state. In this context, qualified persons may include the record subjects, descendants, parents or guardians, and legal representatives.

In contrast, the record becomes publicly accessible after the 50-year mark. The Rules for Administration of Vital Records govern the public's right to access marriage records. For instance, it dictates where and how interested parties can obtain these records. Under Act 1254 of 1995, the Arkansas Bureau of Vital Statistics serves as the State Registrar for all vital records.

Note: All record seekers must provide a valid identification and a statement of purpose before accessing marriage records in Arkansas.

How to Find Marriage Records in Arkansas

You can find online or physical copies of marriage records in Arkansas by contacting the Arkansas Department of Health's Vital Records Office. Here's a step-by-step guide to finding marriage records in Arkansas:

  1. Choose your preferred method of accessing the record. 

You may opt to find marriage records online, by mail, or by visiting the office in person. 

How to Find Marriage Records Online

  1. Visit the Arkansas Vital Records Online Service website
  2. Select the “Continue” button and click on “Marriage Certificate on the subsequent page. 
  3. Input your personal information, including your full name, address, phone number, and birth date. 
  4. Next, fill out the following data about the record subject:
  5. Reason for the request. 
  6. Your relationship to the record subject. 
  7. The groom's and bride's names. 
  8. Date and county where the marriage event occurred. 

How to Find Arkansas Marriage Records by Mail 

  1. Download and fill out the request form. You may also request a form at your nearest local health unit
  2. Compile the completed form with a money order or check payable to the Arkansas Department of Health. Ensure it covers the processing fee, the cost of the marriage certificate, and an identification verification fee. 
  3. Include a copy of a valid identification and send it to this address:

Arkansas Department of Health

Vital Records

Slot 44

4815 West Markham Street

Little Rock, AR 72205.

It takes between 10 and 14 days for the department to process the request.

The Department of Health also allows in-person requests for marriage records between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Note: Include a Vital Records Authorization Form if you're representing the record subject.

2. Pay for the Marriage Records 

You must pay the following fees, irrespective of your mode of retrieving the records:

  1. $10 to get a copy of the marriage certificate. 
  2. A $5 standard processing fee. 
  3. A $1.85 non-refundable fee for verifying your identity. 

You will receive a confirmation number once you make these payments.

3. Check your order status. 

Check your order status on the Department of Health website. You can request a refund if the record is unavailable. 

The County Clerk's Office is also a great place to start when searching for marriage records in Arkansas. To find a copy, visit the county clerk where the event occurred.

How to Get a Marriage License in Arkansas

First of all, marriage licenses are different from marriage certificates. Custodian agencies issue the former before a marriage takes place. In addition, a marriage license is a legal document that proves both couples are legally eligible to marry. So, follow these simple steps to get a marriage license in Arkansas:

  • Visit the Office of the County Clerk, where the marriage event will occur. 
  • Pay the required $60 marriage license fee. 
  • Provide valid identification, such as a driver's license, military ID, Indian card, or an original birth certificate.

What are the legal requirements to obtain a marriage license in Arkansas? 

Under state laws, you must fulfill these requirements to get a marriage license:

  • Both parties must be 18 years of age or older. That said, the state requires a parent's consent if one or both parties are under the legal age. 
  • A certified copy of a divorce certificate if one or both parties are divorcees. 
  • The applicants must return the marriage license to the county clerk within 60 days of receiving it.

Note: There is no waiting period when applying for a marriage license in Arkansas. Furthermore, you can receive it immediately after applying, provided both parties are over 18. The state imposes a 5-day waiting period if one or both parties are under 18.

Who can obtain Marriage Records in Arkansas?

You can request and obtain a marriage record in Arkansas if you fall under these categories: 

  • The record subjects. 
  • A registered spouse 
  • Descendants of the record subjects. 
  • Parents or guardians of the record subjects. 
  • Legal representatives 
  • Designated state or federal agents. 

Record subjects may delegate authority to a third party to access the document. In such situations, the third party must submit a vital records authorization form alongside other documents. 

Under AR Code § 20-18-305 (2020), other record seekers can access the marriage record under one of these conditions:

  • The record is over 50 years old. 
  • The record is crucial for the protection of personal or property rights. 

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records for Free in Arkansas?

Yes. While the Arkansas Department of Health's Vital Records Office serves as the main repository for marriage records, record seekers may opt for free online search platforms as an alternative option to access these records. Some third-party websites provide access to marriage records in Alabama. Marriage records on the site may be grouped into:

  • Indexed records without images. 
  • Indexed records with images. 
  • Marriage records images without an index.

To access marriage records on a third-party platform, you must provide the following:

  • The record subject's first and last name 
  • The place (county) where the event occurred. 
  • The year the event was recorded. 

Is Arkansas a Common Law State for Marriage?

As of 2023, Arkansas state laws do not recognize common-law marriages. Unlike conventional marriages, couples in a common-law marriage do not need a marriage license. To enter a common marriage, the couple must have lived together for a long time. Also, they must inform their families and friends about the nature of their relationships. 

Does Arkansas Recognize Common Law Marriages in Other States?

Yes. Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, common-law couples may enjoy the same rights as legally married couples in Arkansas. 

Sections 9–11–107 further reinforce this stance. Under this law, all state courts recognize common-law marriages contracted in states where they are legal. This means a common-law marriage contracted in Iowa is also legal in Arkansas.

What Other Marriages are Legal in Arkansas?

The state laws also recognize covenant marriages. Although similar to conventional marriages, couples in a covenant marriage must undergo compulsory pre-marital counseling. In addition to this, the couples must also receive counseling before they get divorced. Married couples can also designate their marriage as a covenant marriage. To take this step, they must sign a recitation and an affidavit after receiving counseling. Note that the counselor must stand as a witness to this decision.

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