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Marriage licenses and divorces are public records and are available to anyone that requests them. Divorce records can be sealed under certain situations. Who Can Obtain Marriage Records. There are two types of marriage certificates: confidential and public, and only certain individuals may obtain these copies.
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Although marriage records have been kept by King County, laws and regulations were enacted by the Territory and later the State. Laws and regulations in Washington Territory's earliest years were few and far between.
It was not until , that record of licenses or witnesses were required or that the content of marriage certificates was regulated. Marriage laws have been amended many times since then. Some laws have changed over time or have been repealed due to cultural changes. For example, interracial marriage was illegal in Washington Territory from until The legal age for marriage has also changed over time.
Originally, females had to be 16 years old and males had to be 21 years old or 12 and 16 with parental consent. Currently, both parties must be 18 years old or 17 with parental consent. For a number of years, the following people were barred from marriage: "common drunkards," "habitual criminals," "epileptics," "imbeciles," "feeble-minded persons," "idiots," or "insane" people unless they were a woman over the age of 45 years. The following is a list of the official steps and corresponding records that have been involved in the marriage process in King County over time.
The links below include information about where to find each type of record. License Application formerly License Affidavit - required before issuance of a marriage license, ensuring that the couple can legally marry.
License - authorizes an official to solemnize the ceremony. Certificate - officially documents that the ceremony took place. Return - similar to the certificate, but contains more detailed statistical and personal information.