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South Dakota Marriage Records

South Dakota marriage records provide official documentation of marriage unions in the Mount Rushmore State. While details may vary between records, most records typically contain the following information:

  • Names and ages of the spouses (first, middle, and last)
  • Date and place of the marriage
  • Name of officiant
  • Signature of the bride and groom
  • Address of the bride and groom
  • Names of parents
  • Names of witnesses.

South Dakota marriage records are vital records and, as such, may be requested by eligible parties.  Marriage records may be necessary for various reasons. For instance, residents may require certified copies of a marriage record to provide proof of marriage when applying for spousal benefits, renewing a driver's license, or changing a name. 

What Types of Marriage Records are available in South Dakota

South Dakota maintains different types of marriage records, the most common of which include marriage certificates and marriage licenses.

South Dakota Marriage Certificate:

South Dakota marriage certificates are legal documents affirming that the named parties were married.  To be eligible for a marriage certificate, both spouses must meet several requirements, some of which include:

  • Spouses must obtain a marriage license from the Register of Deeds office in South Dakota County.
  • A legally sanctioned officiant must conduct the marriage ceremony.

Certificates are created after wedding ceremonies and, therefore, include the officiant's signature and other vital details, such as the date and location of the wedding.

South Dakota Marriage License:

A South Dakota marriage license is an official document permitting two people to marry. Licenses are issued before a wedding. Residents obtain marriage licenses by applying to the County Register of Deeds. As part of the process, applicants must meet the state requirements, including:

  • Be old enough to marry (18 years/16 with parental consent)
  • Be unrelated to each other
  • Be single (no bigamy)

Note: Issued licenses remain valid for only a set period, during which both parties must marry. The license becomes void if a marriage does not occur before the validity expires. 

Are South Dakota Marriage Records Public?

Access to South Dakota married records depends on the type. Record seekers can obtain informational copies of a marriage record by submitting an application and paying the applicable fee. However, such records cannot be used for legal proof of identification and do not come with a seal or signature.

In comparison, certified copies of vital records, such as marriage records, are generally private. Only eligible persons, namely spouses and other direct family members, may obtain such records. Residents can obtain records of marriages that occured before 1950 from either the State Department of Health or the Registrar of Deeds in the county where the license was issued. 

How to Find Marriage Records in South Dakota

Members of the public can find marriage records in South Dakota by following several quick steps.

Step 1. Gather the Required Information 

You'll need to provide some related information when applying for marriage records. Custodians generally require the following general details to assist with searches. 

  • Name of both spouses (first, middle, and last name)
  • Date of marriage (month, day, year)
  • Place of marriage (city, county, and state)
  • The location where the license was issued (city, county, and state)

You may also be required to provide a copy of a valid, government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, military identification card, US passport, or a state-issued ID card.

Step 2. Contact the Appropriate Agency. 

At the state level, the South Dakota Department of Health is the primary custodian of such records and processes requests for certified copies. However, residents can also obtain records from 1970 to the present by contacting the county Register of Deeds where the license was issued.

To obtain certified copies of a marriage record from the Vital Records office, applicants must prove their eligibility with supporting documentation. Certified records are issued to only the following:

  • Persons named on the record 
  • Children of either spouse
  • Parent of either spouse
  • Legal guardian of either spouse
  • Grandparents or siblings
  • Any legally authorized agent

Step 3. Submit the Application and Pay the Fee

Depending on the agency, you can obtain records by applying in person, online, or by mail. In-person requests are typically processed the quickest, while mail applications take longer.

Some of the information that must be included in your completed application include:

  • Requester's name
  • Mailing address
  • Type of record required (certified, informational, photostatic)

You'll be expected to pay a non-refundable fee, covering the cost of searching the document and the one certificate if found. You'll be issued a  Notification of Records Searched if no record is found.

How to Get a Marriage License in South Dakota

Marriage license requirements are consistent across all 66 counties in South Dakota. Couples who wish to marry in South Dakota can obtain a marriage license by following several general steps.

Step 1. Meet the Rules of Eligibility

Under South Dakota marriage laws, anyone who wishes to marry must be 18 or older. However, applicants who are 16 or 17 can still obtain a marriage license if they provide a signed, notarized statement of consent from parents or legal guardians. In addition, applicants must not already be in an existing marriage, and most must not be directly related. 

Note: Blood tests are not required for marriage in South Dakota.

Step 2. Gather the Necessary Information for an Application

To obtain a license, both parties must provide some details about their identity and marital status. Some of the information that must be filled out on a marriage license application include:

  • Full name of both parties (first, middle, and last)
  • Residence address (apartment and zip code)
  • Birth State
  • Date of birth
  • Sex and race
  • Marital status
  • Number of previous marriages
  • Social security number

Applicants from previous marriages may be required to provide additional documentation, such as a certified divorce decree or annulment certificate.

Step 3. Submit Application

Although most counties allow couples to fill out application forms in advance, both parties must apply in person. Applicants must also pay the license fee (average $40) and provide a valid government-issued photo ID to confirm their name and date of birth.

Unlike some states, South Dakota has no waiting period for marriage licenses. Applicants can obtain same-day licenses by meeting the requirements and paying the fee. However, once issued, licenses remain valid for only 90 days, during which couples must marry in a wedding ceremony solemnized by recognized officiants such as a judge, justice, magistrate, mayor, or anyone authorized by a church. If a wedding does not occur before the license expires, both parties must reapply for a new one.

Who can obtain Marriage Records in South Dakota?

While members of the public can obtain non-confidential marriage records, only eligible parties can obtain certified copies from the State Department of Health. Certified records are issued on paper with a raised seal and official signature. Such records can be used for formal processes that require proof of marriage, such as filing joint taxes or applying for spousal benefits.

Applicants who may obtain certified marriage records in South Dakota include

  • Spouses named on the record
  • Parents or legal guardians of named persons
  • Children
  • Any authorized agent (attorney or physician)

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in South Dakota

Access to free online records generally varies with different records. For instance, some counties provide an online index of marriage records for residents who wish to conduct genealogical research. However, such platforms typically contain older records (from 1950 or earlier). Residents who wish to obtain more recent records must contact either the clerk at the county where the license was purchased or a vital record office. Both options will cost a fee.

Alternatively, searchers can look up some marriage records for free using third-party platforms. Such sites provide access to records compiled from multiple jurisdictions while operating as private entities independent of any state government agency. Access to some records may require essential information, such as the subject's name or marriage location.

Is South Dakota a Common Law State for Marriage?

South Dakota does not recognize common-law marriages, except for unions established before July 1959. The state marriage laws (Chapter 25-1-29) specify that marriages must be authenticated, solemnized, and recorded to be considered lawful. However, South Dakota recognizes the validity of common-law marriage established in other states.

Common law marriages refer to unions where two people are considered formally married, even though both parties did not obtain a marriage license or have a formal wedding ceremony. Such marriages are common across multiple US states, such as Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Texas.

While the requirements for establishing a common-law marriage vary, most states have the same general rules:

  • Parties must be old enough to enter into a marriage (state legal age)
  • Parties must indicate their intent and willingness to marry
  • Parties must hold themselves as married to friends and family.

Some states have an additional cohabitation requirement for common law relationships, ranging from a few months to up to seven years.

Note: Cohabitation agreements may offer a solution to non-married persons living together in South Dakota. Such agreements can serve as enforceable contracts, defining the rules for domestic living arrangements. However, they do not provide the same rights as married couples.

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