Monday, April 18, 2016

Dear Randy: Were World War II Military Couples Exempt from State Marriage License Requirements?

I received this query via email from reader Wanda:

"Do you happen to know whether military couples who were married at base chapels (instead of local churches, etc.) during World War II were somehow exempt from local/county/state license requirements? I’ve come across two family members who were married at base chapels (one in Texas, another in California) where I haven’t been able to find marriage certificates. In one case, I’ve found hometown newspaper reports of the marriage; in the other case, I have the wedding date from family records. This doesn’t seem very plausible to me, but I’m stumped at not being able to find records at either Ancestry or Family Search for these events."

This is an issue with which I have no experience, and I don't recall reading about it on websites or genea-blogs over the years.

A FindLaw article on "What Are Military Marriage Laws" says:

"For military couples who are both U.S. citizens seeking to marry on U.S. soil, the whole marriage process works the same as it does for civilian couples. The couple will need to obtain a marriage license and the application process will vary by state. Married military couples share property the same way as do married civilian couples."

But that's the current situation, not World War II.

I'm sure someone knows the answer - do any of my faithful readers have knowledge or experience about this issue?


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Aleigh said...

I would like to know too. My grandparents married in Georgia on base and We have a certificate (not a state one) signed by the base chaplain. It does not look like it was issued by the state and its more like a keepsake. Please update this if you find out more! I can't find theirs through the state either!

Gina said...

I have a military couple who were married in California but got a confidential marriage license so they could keep their actual marriage date a secret. He was about to ship out but her divorce wasn't final, but they got married anyway.

Gina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Hansen said...

My parents were married at my grandparents house, but the county did wave the three day wait so they could get married right away in Washington State. Then the county messed up the recording, so there are two marriage certificates for my parents and another couple in the same situation. In Washington marriage records were county records till in the 1950s.
I have also been transcribing marriage records for the Washington Digital Archives and there are several that had the three day wait waved for various reasons.

Peggy said...

Has Wanda checked with the local office where the certificate was issued? It may only be that these particular records are not on familysearch or ancestry.

Unknown said...

Well there's one word to describe what happened with the couple Gina described: bigamy. As long as the decree absolute (or local equivalent) had not been issued then the original couple were still married and there would likely have been a good deal of legal trouble had the military member in question been killed during WWII and his "widow" tried to claim a military widow's pension for example.

BTW the three day wait was not waved, it was waived. Waving the three day wait would have meant bringing a copy of the law to the couple and moving it backwards and forwards when facing in their general direction. Removing the necessity of a formality is a waiver.

Wayne Campbell said...

My parents met at Davis-Montham Air Force base during WWII. They were both in the Army-Air Force. They got a marriage license from the County Clerk, Pima county, AZ on 20 Apr 1945. They were married 1 May 1945 by Chaplin Murdock on the Davis-Montham Air Force base. I don't know if they were required to do this, but they did.

Sharon said...

Sounds like a good question for Judy Russell.

Jane Bonny said...

My own parents and my in-laws were married on military bases during WWII, one in Texas, the other in Alabama. Neither one is on either or FamilySearch; not everything is online. The records themselves, however, are available in the counties in which they married. I got my copies about 15 years ago, one in person and the other via a telephone call followed by a letter. The only problem I had in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas was that their version of a certified copy was to type in the information which provided an opportunity to create errors, at which they succeeded. I found that the uncertified version, without mistakes, was better since it was just a copy.