What Is a Marriage Affidavit?

By Elizabeth Stock

A marriage affidavit is generally used to provide proof of a legal union between two people. It is a legally binding document and as such, you should not take signing this document lightly. There are several reasons why you may need to draft a marriage affidavit – and there are also different types of marriage affidavits. State laws regarding marriage affidavits can vary.


Many states provide a form that you can use to complete a marriage affidavit. The type of marriage affidavit you complete depends on your state of residence and the affidavit’s purpose. However, you generally must sign a marriage affidavit in the presence of at least one witness -- and you may need to have it notarized as well. Since this is a legally binding document, you must follow the procedure of your state to execute a legally recognized document. In some instances, both parties must sign the affidavit, while in other instances only one party has to sign.

Common Law Marriage

In some states, a common law marriage is a state-recognized marriage without a marriage ceremony. However, not all states recognize common law marriages. For example, the state of California will not recognize a common law marriage as a legal marriage. Since a marriage certificate is not available to demonstrate the common law marriage, you may need to complete a marriage affidavit to receive the legal recognition and benefits of a binding marriage in the state.

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Other Reasons to Complete a Marriage Affidavit

There are several other reasons for completing a marriage affidavit. For example, if you cannot locate your marriage license or are in a common law marriage, an employer may ask you to submit a marriage affidavit if you wish to add your spouse to your health insurance. In addition, you may need to provide a marriage affidavit to prove the existence of a marriage to immigration officials, an insurance company to receive insurance proceeds, or to show that you have legal rights to an estate.

Legal Effect of Marriage Affidavit

By signing a marriage affidavit you are signing under penalty of perjury that to the best of your knowledge you and your spouse are married. If you and your spouse are not married and you sign the marriage affidavit with this knowledge, you can face harsh penalties. This legal responsibility applies to the witnesses who sign your affidavit as well.

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