There are several requirements for a valid marriage in Georgia. O.C.G.A. §19-3-2. Generally, a person capable of entering into a contract may enter into the contract of marriage in this state. To contract marriage in Georgia, the requirements are as follows:
- Both parties must be of sound mind. O.C.G.A. §19-3-2(a)(1). This means that both parties must have the knowledge and understanding that they are entering into a marriage.
- Both parties must be at least 18 years of age, except that a 16 or 17 year old may get married with the proper parental consent. O.C.G.A. §19-3-2(a)(2) and O.C.G.A. §19-3-2(b). Specifically, the parents must appear in person in front of a Judge and consent to the marriage. O.C.G.A. §19-3-37(b).
- Neither party may have a living spouse of a previous undissolved marriage. O.C.G.A. §19-3-2(a)(3). This means that if one party is separated from a former spouse, but the divorce was never finalized, he/she cannot enter into another marriage until the first one is fully dissolved via a Final Divorce Decree.
- The parties must not be related to each other by blood or marriage as follows: father and daughter/stepdaughter, mother and son/stepson, brother and sister of the whole blood or half blood, grandparent and grandchild, aunt and nephew, uncle and niece. O.C.G.A. §19-3-2(a)(4) and O.C.G.A. §19-3-3.
Upon a challenge to a Georgia marriage, there is a presumption that the above requirements were met and that the parties had the capacity to contract marriage. This presumption will prevail unless and until it is proven that one or both of the parties to the marriage did not fulfill one of the Georgia requisites to a valid marriage. Fanning v. State, 46 Ga. App. 716 (1933).