MOBILE, ALA. (WALA)- There are more questions than answers when it comes to getting married in Alabama moving forward. Under the new marriage act, a couple can be legally married without a ceremony and without much say from the government. The new process is leaving some clergy and probate judges a little confused.
The days of applying for a marriage license in Alabama are over. Starting today, a new marriage act is in place..
Steve Horn, who performs beach weddings said, "This ill conceived law is poorly executed.”
Horn said he’s already lost business over confusion from the change.
“Couples are calling and saying look if you can't answer any of these questions, if the probate court, the marriage department can't answer, they're feeling a little bit antsy about whether or not Alabama has thought this through and a couple that's about to spend $10,000 on a destination wedding are going to say to themselves, you know maybe we should just go to Florida because there they've got everything in line, we know what to expect and they can answer our questions," Horn said.
If a couple wanted to wed the old way, both of them had to visit probate court to have a marriage license issued. Once the couple was deemed eligible to wed. Then a minister or judge had to perform the ceremony, sign the license and take it to probate court. The new marriage act takes out most of those steps. For starters, you don’t have to have a ceremony if you don’t want to. You also don't have to come to probate court to get a marriage license, instead you can print it online, but once you fill it out, get it notarized, you do have to bring it to probate for them to file it.
A marriage certificate can now be found online at the Alabama Department of Public Health's website.
Judge Don Davis, Mobile County Probate Court said, "It's just completely different in the new law."
Davis hosted a meeting to update local clergy on the changes as much as he could but there are still some questions he has over the changes.
"We have a number of procedural questions relating to the new marriage act and I have submitted a formal opinion request to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and we are awaiting on a response from them," said Davis.
Their response coming in Wednesday, a day before the law takes effect. FOX10 News Investigates getting a copy from the Attorney General's office. One interesting note, under the new marriage act, the couple doesn't even have to know each other or be citizens of the United States to be considered married in Alabama.
I've asked the Attorney General's office, but, it's still unclear who is taking over the job probate court used to do in making sure the couple is not related, not still in a previous marriage and not mentally incompetent to wed.
Horn said the kinks in the new act will most likely work themselves out but, for now, he’s frustrated.
Horn said, “It causes us to look somewhat backward. It causes Alabama to be the state where nobody knows what's going on and that puts a bad taste in tourist and destination wedding couples’ mouths."
Here's a list of some questions and answers from the Attorney General's office on the new marriage act.