The Probate Court is established in each county of Ohio and has exclusive jurisdiction to oversee the administration of an estate of a decedent who was a legal resident of that particular county at his of her date of death. The Probate Court also has exclusive jurisdiction over the issuance of marriage licenses, adoptions, guardianship proceedings, adult protective service cases, the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill, and also responsible for various county appointments.
The first Probate Court in Ohio was established by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Under the first Constitution of Ohio written in 1802, the Court of Common Pleas had exclusive jurisdiction over probate matters. Subsequently, the Probate Court was made a special division of the Court of Common Pleas. In smaller counties such as Meigs and all other southeast Ohio counties, the Probate Judge serves as the Juvenile Judge.
Marriage is a solemn and exalted state, sanctified by the church, respected by society, and licensed by the State. Marriage is a contract between two competent and consenting people. However, there is also a third party to all contracts of marriage– The State. For it is the State that by law provides conditions to and limitations of the marriage contract. The Probate Court is the sole agency, under the laws of the State of Ohio, that is vested with the authority to issue marriage licenses. The marriage laws of the State of Ohio are governed by the Ohio Revised Code and other relevant law.
- *$70, payable in cash. Subject to change; please call to verify costs.
- A portion of this fee is deposited with a fund established by the State of Ohio for aid to abused and battered spouses.
- Who May Apply
- Males at least 18 years of age and females at least 16 years of age who are no closer of kin than second cousins may apply for a marriage license. Application must be made in person, by both parties, and applicants must have valid government identification such as their driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
- Required Information
- The applicants must supply to the Court their current address, their current age, their date of birth, place of birth, the name of their father, the maiden name of their mother and any prior marriages. If either applicant has been married before, then a certified copy of the Decree (court order) of Divorce or Dissolution must be presented to the Deputy Clerk when applying for a marriage license. The Decree will have a Judge's signature showing the prior marriage has been legally terminated
- No license will be issued if either applicant is a habitual drunkard, imbecile, or is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs, or is infected with syphilis that is communicable, or likely to be become communicable.
- Residence Qualifications
- One or both of the applicants must be a residence of Meigs County, Ohio, for a marriage license to be issued. Applicants from out of state may apply for a marriage license in Meigs County, Ohio, provided that the marriage ceremony is performed in Meigs County, Ohio.
- All applicants under the age of 18 must have marriage counseling by a licensed minister or qualified marriage counselor. Successful completion of counseling must be provided in writing to the court from the minister and or counselor. Further, there must be the written consent of both parents, or surviving parent if applicable, or legal guardian. A certified copy of the deceased parent’s death certificate is required if one parent is deceased. If there exists a guardianship for the minor, a certified copy of guardianship papers must be presented.
- Blood Test
- Currently not required by the State of Ohio.
- Waiting Period
- There is no longer a waiting period to obtain a marriage license. Marriages may now be performed the same day that the marriage license is obtained. The marriage license expires 60 days from its issuance if not used.
- Who May Perform Ceremony
- An ordained or licensed Minister of any religious society or congregation within this state licensed to perform marriages, the Probate Judge, a judge of a county court in his country, an authorized judge of a municipal court, the major of a municipal corporation in any county in which such municipal corporations lies, the superintendent of the state school for the deaf.
- All applicants must check their marriage license prior to leaving the Court in order to ascertain that all information is correct and that no errors have been made.
- Who May Adopt
- A husband and wife jointly, a step-parent, or a single adult.
- Who May be Adopted
- A minor child (being under the age of 18), a person determined to be totally and permanently disabled, a person under the age of 21 if certain conditions can be proved to have existed during childhood, an adult may be adopted provided a parent-child relationship existed during the adoptee's minority.
- Where to File
- The Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Adoptions. You file in the Probate Court of the County where either...
- the agency having custody of the child is located,
- the child was born,
- the person or persons seeking to adopt reside,
- the person is stationed in Military Service,
- in private placements where the natural parents reside.
- Home Studies
- Regardless of the type of adoption, a home study is required. Whether obtained through an agency or through the Probate Court, the study will be completed by a professionally trained social worker.
- In all types of adoptions an attorney is needed due to the complex papers and possible contest if consent is not given. Further, this Court is prohibited from giving legal advice including necessary paperwork.
- Court Appearance
- It is mandatory wither through an agency, or independently, that the person adopting and the child sought to be adopted appear before the Probate Court for the final hearing. In certain circumstances, there may be other appearances required. Any exceptions can only be granted by the Court for good cause shown. Only the parties involved are present before the Probate Judge at the time of the final hearing.
- Access to Adoption Files
- Although subject to legislative change, adoption records remain closed in the State of Ohio. Medical information, if any, as it relates to the biological parents may be released only in person upon request of adoptee and proper identification shown. The adoption records are closed to the general public. If you have any questions, you should contact your attorney.
- Birth Certificate Changes
- The original birth certificate will be sealed and a new certificate issued. The adopting parent(s) will be reflected on the new birth certificate, just as though they had been the biological parents. The new birth certificate will be issued from the State the minor child was born in and is returned to the adoptive parent(s) usually within six months.
- What is Estate Administration?
- When an individual dies, some of his or her assets may transfer or pass automatically by contract (i.e. joint and survivorship property); the remaining assets must be transferred through the proceedings in Probate Court. It is the Court’s responsibility to insure that those assets are collected, maintained, and fairly distributed among the decedent’s heirs, beneficiaries, and/or creditors according to the directions of the decedent and the laws of the State of Ohio. This transfer of probate assets is known as administration of an estate
- What is an Executor/Executrix and Administrator /Administratrix?
- An executor is a person appointed to a will, will be the decedent to carry out the directions and requests of the decedent. An administrator is a person appointed by the Court, usually where there is no will, to manage and care for the assets and debts of the decedent as set forth by the laws of the State of Ohio. The executor/administrator are the names for “males” and executrix/administratrix are the names for “females.” Both have a fiduciary duty, being a duty of trust and care, in carrying out their duties of the estate.
- Does a Fiduciary Need an Attorney?
- Due to the complexity of the law and legal problems that are involved in an estate administration, the Court strongly recommends that all fiduciaries seek legal counsel. Good legal advice and guidance can expedite probate, prevent costly errors, and insure that the fiduciary is not cited or sued for errors in their administration of the estate.
- What If There Is No Will?
- If there is no will the estates is said to be intestate. An administrator is appointed and the assets and liabilities are distributed according to the Ohio Laws governing descent and distribution.
- What Kind of Property Must Be Appraised?
- Any property, whose value is not readily ascertainable, such as real estate and motor vehicles, must be appraised. Items such as bank accounts and other monies obviously do not need to be appraised.