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South Carolina Marriage Records

South Carolina marriage records provide information on marriage unions between spouses in the Palmetto State. Such documents typically include the full name of the bride and groom, the location, and the marriage date. Marriage records may also contain data obtained during the license application, such as both parties' residence address, previous marital status, date of birth, and age. The Vital Records Office of the South Dakota Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is the state's central repository for recent records. 

What Types of Marriage Records are available in South Carolina

South Carolina maintains different types of marriage records, including marriage certificates and marriage licenses.

South Carolina Marriage Certificate:

A marriage certificate is an official document created after the wedding. It provides proof that the named parties have been legally wed. Marriage certificates will typically contain the following information. 

  • Full name of bride and groom
  • Date and location of the marriage ceremony
  • Name of the official who oversaw the marriage

South Carolina Marriage License:

A South Carolina marriage license is an official document that gives the holders the right to marry in an officiated ceremony within the state. Such documents are issued in the probate court of the respective county. Unlike marriage certificates, which are created after a marriage.

South Carolina marriage licenses are issued before marriage by the probate Court of any county. After receiving a license, the name parties can marry in any ceremony officiated by ministers of the Gospel, Jewish rabbis, or any office authorized to administer oaths in the state.

Note: A marriage license proves that two parties applied for (and were granted) the right to marry. However, a license is no proof that the couples are married. They only become legally married after they are married in a legal ceremony. 

Are South Carolina Marriage Records Public?

South Carolina marriage records are generally public and can be accessed by anyone. However, the amount of information on a public marriage record is limited compared to protected records. Public marriage records provide general data such as the date, the name of the bride and groom, and marriage location. Residents can obtain public records by applying for a statement of marriage from the SC Dept of Health and Environmental Control. Requesters seeking more detailed records may need to contact the county probate court where the license was issued.

How to Find Marriage Records in South Carolina

Eligible parties can obtain South Carolina marriage records by following several general steps.

Step 1. Determine when the Marriage Occured

Different agencies maintain marriage records depending on when the union occured. For instance, you can obtain records of marriages that occurred before July 1950 or after December 2022 by contacting the probate court in the county where the license was issued. In contrast, marriage records filed between July 1950 and December 2022 can be found by applying to the South Dakota Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

Step 2. Collect Information about the Marriage

To obtain a marriage certificate, applicants must provide some details about the record. Some of the necessary information includes:

  • Full name of the bride and groom (first, middle, and last)
  • Date when the marriage occured (day, month, and year)
  • The location where the license was issued (county)
  • Requester's relationship to the married couple
  • Mailing address of the requester
  • Requeser's full name and signature

Step 3. Submit Application to Record Custodian

Members of the public can submit marriage record applications in various ways, depending on the custodial office. For instance, the DHEC processes in-person, mail, and online requests. It also accepts requests made over the phone. In-person requests generally have the shortest processing time, averaging 45 minutes, while mail-in requests average four weeks.

Applicants must provide a valid government-issued ID, such as a driver's license, military ID card, United States passport, permanent resident card, or refugee travel documents. Record seekers wishing to obtain certified copies must pay a non-refundable search fee ranging from $12 to $17. The search fee covers one certified record (if found). Each additional copy required during the same request will incur an extra cost. 

How to Get a Marriage License in South Carolina

Step 1. Meet the License and Marriage Requirements.

To get a marriage license in South Carolina, applicants must meet the eligibility rules set by the state. Applicants must meet the age of consent, which is 18. Applicants who are 16 or 17 can still marry, but only with the signed consent of their parents or guardians. Unlike some states, South Carolina has no residency requirements for obtaining a license, but the marriage ceremony must be done within the state. In addition, applicants are also not required to submit to a blood test.

Step 2. Gather the Required Information.

As part of the application process, both parties must provide some personal information that goes into the official record. Some of these include the following:

  • Names of both applicants (first, middle, and last)
  • Current address
  • Marital status (number of previous marriages)
  • Name of parents
  • Sex, race, and date of birth 
  • Social security number

Note: Previously married parties are generally advised to provide proof of divorce (such as the divorce decree) during application.

Step 3. Submit the Application and Pay the Fee.

Both parties must appear when applying for a South Carolina marriage license. Applicants between eighteen and twenty-five will also be expected to provide a valid government-issued ID as proof of identity and age. Some acceptable documents include:

  • Valid US passport
  • Valid South Carolina state ID
  • Driver's license
  • Military ID
  • Social security card
  • A certified copy of the birth certificate

The cost of a marriage license varies across South Carolina counties, ranging from under $45 to above $75. Depending on the county, acceptable options for payment may include cash or credit card. In addition, marriage licenses have a general 24-hour waiting period, after which they can be picked up and used for a ceremony in any part of the state. South Carolina licenses also have no expiration period, so couples can opt to get married immediately or later in the year.

Who can obtain Marriage Records in South Carolina?

Anyone can obtain marriage records in South Carolina by submitting a request to the custodian. However, certified copies of a marriage certificate can only be obtained by eligible parties. Record seekers are only entitled to obtain certified copies if they are:

  • One of the parties named on the record (bride or groom)
  • Children of the married couple (and at least 18 years)
  • Former spouses
  • Legal representative of the couple.

Applicants who do not fall in any of these categories will be issued marriage statements, which provide general details about the marriage, such as when and where it occured and the location of the county where the license was issued.

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in South Carolina

Members of the public can look up older marriage records using online genealogical indexes. However, more recent records can only be obtained by paying a fee to the probate court or local vital records office. Alternatively, record seekers may look up marriage records using free third-party platforms. Such sites provide access to records compiled from multiple jurisdictions while operating as private entities independent of any state government agency. Access to some records may require essential information, such as the subject's name or marriage location.

Is South Carolina a Common Law State for Marriage?

South Carolina no longer recognizes common law marriages. Although the Palmetto initially recognized common law marriages, this changed in July 2019, following a Supreme Court ruling that abolished such unions. As of 2024, the state only recognizes unions established before the court ruling.

Common law marriages refer to non-traditional marriages where two people are considered married even though they did not obtain a marriage license or engage in a wedding ceremony. To enter a common law marriage, both parties must meet several key requirements:

  • Both parties must live together for an extended period
  • Both parties must be legally old enough to marry and be unrelated
  • Both parties must indicate their intent to be married (formal or informal)
  • Both parties must hold themselves out to friends, family, and the community as married.

Couples in a South Carolina common law marriage are entitled to all the rights of a traditionally married couple, but only if the union occured before 2019. In addition, the state recognizes the validity of marriages established in other states that permit such unions.

Note: Non-married couples may be able to set some legal rights by entering into a domestic partnership. Couples can use domestic partnership agreements to define cohabitation, visitation, and healthcare rights. However, such arrangements are not the same as a marriage and do not come with all the marriage benefits.

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