* 51-1. Requisites of marriage; solemnization. * 51-1. Requisites of marriage; solemnization.
A valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of a male and female person who may
lawfully marry, presently to take each other as husband and wife, freely, seriously and plainly
expressed by each in the presence of the other, either:
(1) a. In the presence of an ordained minister of any religious denomination,
a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate; and
b. With the consequent declaration by the minister or magistrate that the
persons are husband and wife; or
(2) In accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious
denomination, or federally or State recognized Indian Nation or Tribe.
Marriages solemnized before March 9, 1909, by ministers of the gospel licensed, but not ordained,
are validated from their consummation. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 3; Code, s. 1812; Rev., s. 2081; 1908,
c. 47; 1909, c. 704, s. 2; c. 897; C.S., s. 2493; 1945, c. 839; 1965, c. 152; 1971, c. 1185, s. 26;
1977, c. 592, s. 1; 2000-58, ss. 1, 2; 2001-14, ss. 1, 2; 2001-62, ss. 1, 17; 2002-115, ss. 5, 6;
2002-159, s. 13(a); 2003-4, s. 1; 2005-56, s. 1; 2007-61, s. 1; 2009-13, s. 1; 2012-194, s. 65.4(a).) * 51-1.1. Certain marriages performed by ministers of Universal Life Church validated. Any marriages performed by ministers of the Universal Life Church prior to July 3, 1981, are
validated, unless they have been invalidated by a court of competent jurisdiction, provided that all
other requirements of law have been met and the marriages would have been valid if performed
by an official authorized by law to perform wedding ceremonies. (1981, c. 797.) * 51-1.2. Marriages between persons of the same gender not valid. Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North
Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina. (1995 (Reg.
Sess., 1996), c. 588, s. 1.) * 51-2. Capacity to marry. (a) All unmarried persons of 18 years, or older, may lawfully marry, except as hereinafter
(a1) Persons over 16 years of age and under 18 years of age may marry, and the register of
deeds may issue a license for the marriage, only after there shall have been filed with the register
of deeds a written consent to the marriage, said consent having been signed by the appropriate
person as follows:
(1) By a parent having full or joint legal custody of the underage party; or
(2) By a person, agency, or institution having legal custody or serving as a guardian
of the underage party.
Such written consent shall not be required for an emancipated minor if a certificate of emancipation
issued pursuant to Article 35 of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes or a certified copy of a final
decree or certificate of emancipation from this or any other jurisdiction is filed with the register of
NC General Statutes - Chapter 51 2
(b) Persons over 14 years of age and under 16 years of age may marry as provided in G.S.
(b1) It shall be unlawful for any person under 14 years of age to marry.
(c) When a license to marry is procured by any person under 18 years of age by fraud or
misrepresentation, a parent of the underage party, a person, agency, or institution having legal
custody or serving as a guardian of the underage party, or a guardian ad litem appointed to
represent the underage party pursuant to G.S. 51-2.1(b) is a proper party to bring an action to annul
the marriage. (R.C., c. 68, s. 14; 1871-2, c. 193; Code, s. 1809; Rev., s. 2082; C.S., s. 2494; 1923,
c. 75; 1933, c. 269, s. 1; 1939, c. 375; 1947, c. 383, s. 2; 1961, c. 186; 1967, c. 957, s. 1; 1969, c.
982; 1985, c. 608; 1998-202, s. 13(s); 2001-62, s. 2; 2001-487, s. 60.) * 51-2.1. Marriage of certain underage parties. (a) If an unmarried female who is more than 14 years of age, but less than 16 years of age,
is pregnant or has given birth to a child and the unmarried female and the putative father of the
child, either born or unborn, agree to marry, or if an unmarried male who is more than 14 years of
age, but less than 16 years of age, is the putative father of a child, either born or unborn, and the
unmarried male and the mother of the child agree to marry, the register of deeds is authorized to
issue to the parties a license to marry; and it shall be lawful for them to marry in accordance with
the provisions of this Chapter, only after a certified copy of an order issued by a district court
authorizing the marriage is filed with the register of deeds. A district court judge may issue an
order authorizing a marriage under this section only upon finding as fact and concluding as a matter
of law that the underage party is capable of assuming the responsibilities of marriage and the
marriage will serve the best interest of the underage party. In determining whether the marriage
will serve the best interest of an underage party, the district court shall consider the following:
(1) The opinion of the parents of the underage party as to whether the marriage
serves the best interest of the underage party.
(2) The opinion of any person, agency, or institution having legal custody or
serving as a guardian of the underage party as to whether the marriage serves
the best interest of the underage party.
(3) The opinion of the guardian ad litem appointed to represent the best interest of
the underage party pursuant to G.S. 51-2.1(b) as to whether the marriage serves
the best interest of the underage party.
(4) The relationship between the underage party and the parents of the underage
party, as well as the relationship between the underage party and any person
having legal custody or serving as a guardian of the underage party.
(5) Any evidence that it would find useful in making its determination.
There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the marriage will not serve the best interest of the
underage party when all living parents of the underage party oppose the marriage. The fact that
the female is pregnant, or has given birth to a child, alone does not establish that the best interest
of the underage party will be served by the marriage