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Individuals trying to get their hands on marriage records in Houston, Texas may have hit a few roadblocks and wonder how to obtain Harris county marriage records.
Getting a free Harris county marriage records search is as easy as performing a background check on one of the individuals named on the marriage record using the search bar at the top of this page.
Although using a background check won’t always provide certified copies of marriage records, but it’s a great starting point due to how many records are checked simultaneously, which can save hours of searching.
To find copies of Harris County marriage records, the key understanding the way records are kept and the laws that dictate who may access public records. This guide explains everything about this search process for Harris County, TX.
Finding Harris County Marriage Records
Unlike criminal records which are always considered public unless there are special circumstances, vital records can be much more difficult to obtain. The reason for this is that each state will have its own laws when it comes to what vital record information they consider public and who can obtain this information.
However, Texas does consider all vital records to be public information by default so individuals looking for Harris county marriage records should be able to locate and obtain them fairly easily. Although marriage records are normally considered public information in Harris county, some couples may choose to have their marriage records sealed from the public. This is known as a confidential marriage license and it can make things rather difficult for an individual to obtain the records.
If a marriage record is considered confidential it is highly likely that it will not appear on any vital records database and only the couple named on the records will be able to request copies.
Are Marriage Records Public?
When it comes to are marriage records public? The answer for most states is yes. However simply because the records are technically public does not mean that they are easy to obtain. Many states, including Texas, have several laws that may make it hard to locate or obtain the records.
For example, some states may allow anyone to request marriage records and obtain copies of the records. On the other hand some states only allow the individuals named on the documents to obtain copies of the records, whereas the general public can only obtain a verification letter. A verification letter is essentially a document that confirms that marriage or divorce took place. However, the document can not be used for legal purposes the way the actual records can.
For example, individuals who need their divorce or marriage records for insurance reasons will need to provide the marriage certificate or divorce decree, a verification letter will not be accepted.
Find Harris County Free Public Records
Harris county free public records are available in a few different places depending on the records. When it comes to marriage records specifically they will be available in two different places: The state vital records office and the county clerk and recorder’s office of the county where the marriage took place.
The Texas state vital records office is likely the first place that many people will look for marriage records.1 The vital records office is in charge of keeping track of divorces, marriages, births, and deaths in the state. However, when it comes to marriage records, the vital records office will only be able to provide a verification letter about marriage. This makes it a great database to take advantage of for individuals who are only looking to confirm if someone got married and do not require certified copies of the marriage certificate.
Individuals who need official records will not be able to use the vital records office and instead will need to contact the county clerk and recorder of the county where the marriage took place. Only the county clerk can give certified copies of the marriage certificate. Those who don’t know where a marriage took place can learn this information from the vital records office, and then contact the correct county clerk’s office to request a certified copy.
Unlike many states, anyone can obtain a copy of a marriage certificate in Texas, rather than just the couple named on the document.
How To Perform a Marriage Certificate Search in Harris County
Performing a marriage certificate search in Harris county is fairly easy and can be completed in a few different ways. The fastest and most convenient method for most individuals will be to perform a search online through the vital records office website. Individuals who need certified copies can often make records requests with the county recorder online as well, however, smaller counties may not have an online request system.
Besides online methods, individuals can also make vital records requests via mail or in person either at a local vital records office or at the Vital Records office in Austin, Texas.
Individuals seeking certified records will need to contact their local county clerk and recorder to obtain the records. As mentioned, many small counties will not have an online records request system and individuals will need to contact the office via phone or in person.
Specific steps to obtain records through both locations are outlined below.
How To Make a Vital Records Request
People who are dating divorcees are interested in how to find my divorce date online for free. Performing a Harris county marriage records search using the Texas vital records website is extremely easy and should only take a few minutes.
Keep in mind that the vital records office can only offer verification letters regarding marriages and divorces. Official records are kept by the specific county where the documents were filed.
Step 1: Access the Texas Vital records website.
Step 2: Select the records needed
Step 3: Fill out all required fields
No matter which records are chosen, similar information will be needed to complete the request. Basic contact information such as the name, address, driver’s license information, etc. will be required from the requestor.
Once the personal information has been filled in, individuals will need to fill out basic information for the records they need. In the case of marriage records, this should be the name of at least one of the parties involved in the marriage.
Step 4: Provide payment and complete the request.
With all the forms properly filled in the only thing left to do is to double-check that all the information has been entered correctly, and to provide payment. The cost varies slightly based on what records but marriage records specifically should be available for $20.
This fee includes the search itself as well as the document that contains the findings of the search.
How To Make TX County Clerk and Recorder Records Request
As mentioned, those that need certified copies of a marriage record will need to go through the county clerk and recorder to make the request.
Step 1: Find out the county where the marriage records are held.
Each county will only have the marriage records of marriages that were filed in that specific county. This information can be obtained in a few ways such as using the method using the vital records office discussed above.
Step 2: Contact the County Clerk and Recorder
Contacting the county clerk to find out the best way to make a records request will be the most reliable method. Records requests are fairly common so there will likely be a specific system in place that the county clerk can guide individuals through. Many counties will also have a website where individuals can make records request electronically.
Step 3: Make records request
Requests can usually be made by providing basic information such as the name and address of the requestor as well as payment for the copies. The exact price will vary from county to county but should not exceed $30.
How To Find Harris County Divorce Records
Finding Harris county divorce records is a similar process to finding marriage records in the county. There are a few different ways to obtain divorce records based on what they are needed for.
Individuals who are only seeking to find out if a divorce took place should go through the state vital records office.4 The vital records office will not be able to provide specific documents but should be able to provide a verification letter regarding if there is any record of the divorce with the state.
For those looking to obtain official divorce records, the courthouse will likely be the best option. Since divorces are filed in civil court, the court where the divorce was filed should have a record of the divorce available to the public. The main record that the courthouse will have is the divorce decree which will outline the conditions of the divorce as well as finalize the divorce itself.
However, since divorce decrees tend to have extensive personal information regarding the parties to the divorce, it is fairly common for a judge to seal these records as soon as the divorce is finalized. Although these records are technically public information, they can be difficult to obtain due to how many of these records are sealed.
If the record is sealed then only the individuals named on the records as well as their legal representatives will be able to request the records.
Are Divorce Records Public in Texas?
When it comes to are divorce records public in Texas, the answer is somewhat complicated. The freedom of information act makes all court records public information, it is extremely easy to get divorce records sealed.5
Although they are technically public information, it is highly likely that the records will be sealed and thus not available to the public without a court order, unless the individual named on the record is the one making the request.
Divorce Records: Harris County Court Records
Harris county court records can be obtained through the specific court where the case was heard.6 The Harris county public records website has a list of all the different courts with a link to their website where individuals can find record request information.
Harris County Marriage License Application
Before getting married in Harris county, Texas individuals will first need to obtain a Harris county marriage license application. A marriage license application is simply a form filled out by the couple that is then reviewed by the county clerk and recorder to ensure that the couple is legally allowed to get married. Mainly, they are looking to ensure the individuals meet basic requirements like age, citizenship, and that they are not related.
A marriage license application can be obtained from the county clerk and recorder’s office.
Free Marriage License Records Search
Some individuals trying to find out if an individual is married or not may be looking for a free marriage license records search. Marriage licenses are generally not kept on record as they are relatively unimportant documents and do not actually prove if a couple was married, only that they were likely planning on getting married.
Harris County Marriage Records: Marriage Background Check
More and more people are performing a marriage background check on their partners these days, especially if they met the person online. These checks can be useful to determine if an individual is who they say they are as well as the ability to view the individual’s criminal record to see if there are any serious charges that they have not mentioned.
Performing a Premarital Background Check
A premarital background check can be performed in a few different ways. The quickest method is to use the search bar at the top of this page to perform a free public records check that will include a criminal history check.
Besides the search bar at the top, there are also background check services that offer a 7-day free trial background check so that individuals can perform a single search without having to pay for a month-long subscription.
Harris County Court
The Harris County court system includes several different courthouses that oversee various cases from the Houston metro area. Keep in mind there is not one court for the entire county, rather there are multiple courts that will see different kinds of cases.
Harris County Family Court Records
Harris county family court records will include all court cases related to family matters such as divorce, custody agreements as well as domestic abuse cases that are not being heard in criminal court. Records for the Harris county family court can be found on the Harris county records website.
Harris County Civil Court Records
Texas makes the distinction between civil and family courts. The Harris county civil court records can be found on the Harris county records website and include records of cases involving breaches of contracts, tenant disputes, and other similar cases.
Harris County Clerk Records Search
Individuals looking to perform a Harris county clerk records search can browse the list of services on the Harris County website.7 Not only will this allow individuals to see all the records that can be requested from the county clerk but forms for these requests will also be provided as well as other services offered by the county clerk besides record requests.
What If I Can’t Find Harris County Marriage Records?
Obtaining Harris county marriage records can be somewhat confusing, especially for individuals unfamiliar with records requests of any kind or those only familiar with criminal records requests.
The important thing to remember is that the vital records office will only be able to provide verification on marriage records whereas the county clerk will be able to provide certified copies of marriage certificates. Last, remember that certain records can be sealed, meaning just because a search didn’t yield any results, does not mean the individual is not married.
What Is Affidavit of Absent Applicant for Marriage License Harris County?
When obtaining a marriage license application, both parties will need to be present in order to get the application. However, if circumstances make this impossible, individuals also have the option to complete a signed and notarized affidavit to obtain the document with only one party present.
Vital records are some of the most confusing records when it comes to obtaining certified copies. Individuals who are only interested in whether or not someone has been married can use a background check service or the vital records office to find this information.
However, those looking for Harris county marriage records so that they can obtain a certified copy of a marriage certificate will need to go through the county clerk and recorder’s office of the county where the marriage took place.
Frequently Asked Questions About Harris County Marriage Records
Where To Get Harris County Public Records?
Harris county public records are available in a few different places based on the kind of records needed as well as what they are needed for. Any county court records such as family court records, criminal court records, and civil court records are only available through the specific courts while other records such as land and tax records are available through the county recorders office. Finally, vital records are available at the state level through the vital records office or through the county recorder’s office in some cases.
Are Divorce Records Public in Texas?
People who have recently divorced want to know are divorce records public. Divorce records are considered public in Texas but there is a good chance that the records will be sealed making them unobtainable to everyone but the individuals named on the records.
Where Can You Obtain Harris County District Clerk Records?
Harris county district clerk records are available on the Harris county website but will often need to be requested directly through the agency holding the records.
How Many Marriages Have Prenups?
Are you among those who are curious to know how many marriages have prenups? Most studies performed on the matter estimate that less than 10% of marriages have a prenup agreement.
What Are the Different Harris County District Court?
There are several different district courts in Harris county such as Civil, Family, Criminal, and probate courts.
How Can You Request Harris County Probate Court Records?
Harris county probate court records will need to be obtained directly from the probate court clerk.
1State of Texas. (2022). Texas Vital Records. Texas.gov. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://www.texas.gov/texas-vital-records/>
2Texas Health and Human Services. (2022). Order Vital Records. Texas Department of State Health Services. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://ovra.txapps.texas.gov/ovra/order-vital-records>
3Texas Health and Human Services. (2022, June 3). Record Types. Texas Department of State Health Services. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://www.dshs.texas.gov/vs/record-types.aspx#marrdiv>
4Texas Health and Human Services. (2022). Marriage and Divorce Records. Texas Department of State Health Services. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://www.dshs.texas.gov/vs/marr-div/>
5US Government. (2022). Freedom of Information Act. FOIA.gov. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://www.foia.gov/>
6Harris County. (2022). Public Records. Texas Information Governance and Records Management. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://records.harriscountytx.gov/Public-Records>
7State of Texas. (2022). All Online Services A-Z. Harris County. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://www.harriscountytx.gov/Online-Services/All-Online-Services-A-Z>
8State of Texas. (2022). Online Record Search. Fort Bend County. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://www.fortbendcountytx.gov/government/departments/county-clerk/online-record-search>
9Harris County. (2022). Find Public Records. Texas Information Governance and Records Management. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from <https://records.harriscountytx.gov/>