On one level, a marriage is a type of contract. It details the rights and duties of both parties, as determined by law. The couple must go through certain steps before they can be married. First, they'll need a marriage license; this is usually arranged through the county clerk's office, circuit court or a marriage bureau. Sometimes, the license must come from the same county where the wedding will take place. Rules vary, so be sure to check in advance. To obtain a license, you must present identification, show proof of legal age, and both people must sign the document. In some states, a blood test may also be required. The marriage license is only valid for a certain length of time, usually 30 days, within which time the wedding must take place. However, some areas also have an initial waiting period of three days, before the couple can marry. The ceremony itself must be conducted by a qualified clergy person, judge, or other court official. Because marriage is a legal contract, it can only be dissolved through formal action, such as divorce or annulment. The consent of both parties is required to dissolve the contract.
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