Franklin County now offering virtual marriage licenses

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Franklin County couples now have the option of tying the knot remotely. 

Recently the Franklin County Probate Court started issuing marriage licenses over video conferences.

“Sometimes the law is a little slow to catch up to technology. But fortunately we’ve been able to think outside of the box a little bit here and the response has been very positive. People are happy that we’re willing to make those accommodations,” said Probate Judge Robert Montgomery.

Outside of the COVID-19 health crisis, couples could come to the 23rd floor of the Franklin County courthouse where staff would process and issue marriage licenses. Now, each couple is asked to make an appointment, check-in to a waiting area on the courthouse main floor and then report upstairs in limited numbers. Everyone is asked about possible exposure to and symptoms of the coronavirus before arriving in-person.

“I knew at the beginning that we just couldn’t afford to stop because then everything would pile up. We had to find a way to innovate, continue to do our job and continue to move things along,” Judge Montgomery explained about the adaptations.

The court expects to designate Thursdays for remote marriage licenses. The process will work much like in-person protocol, with the same documents and payment required. The license certificate will then be mailed to a couple’s home or can be picked up from the courthouse with limited contact.

With legal implications tied to marriage, Judge Montgomery explained it was necessary to provide an alternative option for couples who didn’t feel comfortable with an in-person appointment.

“Getting married, for example, is not only a constitutional right, it’s a fundamental right. And being legally married when you’re looking at things like potential health insurance and those sort of things, it’s important,” he said.

The court is also making an exception to state law requiring marriages to be formalized with a ceremony within 60 days of the marriage license being issued. Judge Montgomery is extending the timeline for couples getting married later. He’s also giving re-issuing licenses to replace expired ones without an additional cost.

Follow the steps here to apply for a marriage license in Franklin County.

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