Judges of the General Court of Justice, in addition to others authorized by law, have the power to officiate weddings. To marry, couples must comply with certain procedures and requirements provided in the Puerto Rico Civil Code and applicable special laws.
The information provided below exclusively pertains to the celebration of marriages in the Court of First Instance. If a person is interested in a civil wedding before a judge, additional information may be obtained at the Office of the Clerk of the Court.
Celebration of Marriage
What is the procedure and what are the requirements to be married before the Court?
The persons who wish to marry are known as the contracting parties. These persons must comply with the following procedure and requirements:
- Contact the Vital Statistics Registry, in person or electronically, to receive orientation and obtain the necessary documents. The Judicial Branch cannot certify that the following documents are the only ones required or the most recent versions developed by the Vital Statistics Registry:• Requirements for Certificate and Statement to Contract Marriage (“Requisitos para la certificación y declaración para contraer matrimonio”; RD-10)
• Medical Certificate to Contract Marriage (“Certificación médica para contraer matrimonio”; RD-12)
• Affidavit and Marriage Certificate (“Declaración jurada y certificado de matrimonio”; RD-14)
- Undergo the laboratory tests required by law, which include screening for sexually transmitted diseases (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and human immunodeficiency virus–HIV). According to the document titled “Requirements for Certificate and Statement to Contract Marriage”-10), once the laboratory test results are received, the contracting parties will have 14 days to bring them to a doctor in order to obtain the proper medical certificate.
- Within 10 days after obtaining the medical certificate, the contracting parties must submit the following documents (for each contracting party) before the Vital Statistics Registry:
- laboratory test results
- medical certificate
- current photo identification (issued by the government of the state or country of residence, such as a driver’s license or passport)
- internal revenue stamps in the amount of $30.00 (Code 5120)
- birth certificate
If either of the contracting parties has been married before, said party must bring a certified copy of the court decree or public instrument of divorce, or the Death Certificate of the previous spouse, as the case may be.
At this stage in the process, the Vital Statistics Registry will return the stamped medical certificate and provide the “Affidavit and Marriage Certificate” (RD-14) form, which will state the deadline for contracting marriage. The contracting parties will have a term of 10 calendar days to marry, starting from the date the doctor signed the medical certificate.
- The medical certificate expires within 10 days from the date it is issued. Once this period elapses, the contracting parties may not contract marriage without a new medical certificate.4. The contracting parties should make arrangements with the judge to determine the date to celebrate the marriage so that it can take place within the term provided in the “Affidavit and Marriage Certificate” (RD-14). When doing so, the contracting parties must consider the time required to complete the procedures related to the marriage.
5. The contracting parties must sign an affidavit attesting to their legal capacity to contract marriage. The statement that must be made under oath is contained in the “Affidavit and Marriage Certificate” (RD-14) and must state:
- the first and last names, sex, age, place of birth, marital status, profession or trade, domicile, and residential address of each contracting party
- first and last name(s) and place of birth of each parent (biological or otherwise)
- degree of kinship or consanguinity, if any, between the contracting parties
- statement establishing that there is no legal impediment to marry each other
- if there was a previous marriage, the full name of the former spouse and the manner and date of dissolution of the marriage.
- first and last names, age, and residential address of any child of either party
- date, time, and place the wedding will be held
- name and title of the officiant
- name and residential address of the witnesses to the celebration of the marriage
- the marital property system selected by the contracting parties
- information related to any medical condition or surgical procedure that, were it known by the other contracting party, said party would not consent to the marriage
If any of the contracting parties is a minor who has reached the age of 18, the written consent of the persons exercising parental rights or guardianship must be included.
6. On the date established to celebrate the wedding, the contracting parties must appear before the proper court with the required documents and two witnesses over the age of 21. Both the contracting parties as well as the witnesses must bring a current photo identification (issued by the government of the state or country of residence, such as a driver’s license or passport). Additionally, in order to celebrate the marriage, one of the contracting parties must show that they reside in the municipality or judicial region of the Court where they are to be married. A driver’s license or a recent utility bill (water, electricity, or telephone) in the name of either party may be submitted.
What happens if one or both of the contracting parties have children?
If either of the contracting parties had children prior to this marriage, either with the person whom they will marry or with another, they must provide the birth certificate of each child.
What happens if either of the contracting parties is a widow or widower?
The contracting party who is a widow or widower must submit the corresponding death certificate.
What happens if either of the contracting parties is divorced?
Any contracting party who has been divorced must submit a certified copy of the divorce decree or public instrument of divorce. When coordinating the date to celebrate the marriage, the contracting parties must take into account the time it takes to obtain this documentation.
If the divorce decree was issued in a state of the United States, the person must bring a certificate issued by an authorized officer or by the county clerk.
Any contracting party who has been divorced may not marry again until 30 days have elapsed after the copy of the notice of the divorce decree has been filed in the record and it becomes final and unappealable, unless the parties waived said 30-day term at the time of the divorce and said waiver is stated in the divorce decree, or unless the party was divorced through public instrument before a notary.
What happens if one of the contracting parties is a minor?
In Puerto Rico, a minor is anyone who has not yet reached the age of 21. Only those who have already turned 18 may marry with the express assistance and consent of the parents with parental rights (patria potestas) or of their guardian.
• If either parent or guardian is deceased, the proper death certificate must be submitted.
• If either parent or guardian is not in Puerto Rico (for example, due to travel or work), they must execute an affidavit wherein they authorize the marriage. Said statement must be duly authenticated by an authorized officer or by the county clerk.
If any of these persons refuses to give their consent, the court may authorize the marriage after holding a hearing to learn the reasons for the refusal and determine whether the minor can discern and understand the implications of celebrating the union and undertaking the duties such union entails.
Can people related to each other contract marriage?
It depends on the degree of kinship or consanguinity. This refers to the bond between two persons in the same family. In Puerto Rico, collateral relatives by consanguinity or adoption up to the third degree may not marry. Such persons are uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces. However, contracting parties who are relatives in the fourth degree, such as first cousins, may contract marriage.
What is the fee for officiating the wedding in court?
All weddings celebrated before the court must pay a $20.00 fee in cash, certified check, or a bank or money order payable to the Clerk of the Court or the Office of the Clerk of the Court. Once the documents are checked to ensure they are complete, the contracting parties must pay the fee. If the marriage is not celebrated for any reason attributable to the contracting parties, the fee paid will not be refunded.
By regulation, judges may not charge fees for officiating weddings in court. If the parties wish to marry outside the court and after business hours, they must make arrangements with the judge, in which case a fee may be agreed upon.
During what business hours may weddings be celebrated in court?
Although the hours of operation of the courts are Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. through 5:00 p.m., the contracting parties must schedule the wedding in advance, since each judicial region may establish specific times for wedding ceremonies.
Note that the court has the obligation to ensure that the judges comply with the current legal requirements. Therefore, the contracting parties may be asked for information or other documentation in addition to what the Vital Statistics Registry requires.
Revised: March 2023