Florida is a popular destination wedding location for many couples. Often times, due to travel plans or unfamiliarity with the local area, many brides and grooms wish to obtain their Florida Marriage License in advance of their arrival. There is currently a lot of contradictory information on the Internet as to whether or not a couple can obtain their License to Marry in the State of Florida without having to appear in person before the Clerk of Court. Some websites say you can while others say you cannot. Surprisingly, there are even some Clerks of Court in the State of Florida who are unfamiliar with the Statutes.
Simply put, there is a provision in the Florida Statutes for obtaining your Marriage License by mail in advance of your arrival but there are several special conditions that must be met beforehand. The process for obtaining your license in this manner is referred to as a "Plea In Absentia". It is a little-known provision in the Statutes designed to assist those brides and grooms with special circumstances.
Generally speaking, the following conditions must be met:
The Marriage License is valid for 60 days from the date it has been issued. The date of issue counts as the first day so care should be taken to ensure the couple allows a few extra "slack days" on the back-end of the valid period for the license in the event of travel delays or last minute changes to their wedding date. If the license expires prior to the wedding ceremony a new one must be obtained before the officiant can legally sanction the union of the couple.
Currently, there are only two County Clerks of Court in the State of Florida that allow for Plea in Absentia filings as they pertain to Marriage Licenses. Fortunately, however, a Marriage License issued by any County Clerk of Court within Florida is valid in any other county. For example, you may use a courthouse in Central Florida for your Plea in Absentia filing and still get married in the Florida Keys, Miami, Panama City Beach, or elsewhere within the State.
We hope this article helps to clear up any confusion on this issue. For further study, we would recommend a review of the Florida Statutes, section 741. We wish you the best for your visit to the Sunshine State and for your upcoming wedding.