We were married in Arizona. I received the certificate after the ceremony, but
we didn’t file it. Is my marriage legal? It says, “Expires after one year if not filed.” I
didn’t notice this requirement, not until the passing of my husband. The Justice
of Peace Judge didn’t inform us that we must file it. We were under the
impression the Judge would submit any marriage documentation for recording
Are you sure the Justice of Peace did not record it? I am betting he or she did,
because the JP is required to do so. If he or she did not, then I am sorry to say
that I do not think that you were legally married when your Husband passed. I
do think however that this can be rectified.
RELEVANT ARIZONA LAW
• A marriage contracted within AZ is not valid unless a license is issued and
the marriage is solemnized by an authorized person before the
expiration of the marriage license.
• The clerk of the superior court is required to maintain a record of all
marriage licenses issued.
• The person solemnizing shall return the license to the clerk within thirty days
after the solemnization. It is unlawful for any person who is
authorized to solemnize marriages to fail to file the marriage
license with the act of solemnization endorsed on the marriage
license within thirty days of the ceremony. A violation of this
section is a class 2 misdemeanor. It was his or her obligation, not
yours. Perhaps this did properly occur.
Our state law does permit duplicate endorsed marriage licenses. The
application shall be by a sworn statement that describes the circumstances of
the marriage ceremony and that contains the notarized signatures of the
applicant and, if possible, both persons married, the person who solemnized
the marriage and at least two witnesses to the marriage ceremony.
Pursuant to a court order, the clerk shall issue and record a duplicate endorsed
The court shall not charge a fee for the application or for issuing or recording
the duplicate endorsed marriage license.
SO, if you determine that the JP never filed the original, it is my advice, if you
wish to perfect the marriage, go ahead and file the wedding license even this
long after the wedding; or seek a duplicate as is described above.