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Fake Texas Marriage Certificate: What to Look For

Sophia Merton
April 10, 2024

Unfortunately, there is an escalating concern regarding fake Texas marriage certificates. These are documents that are deliberately forged in order to trick authorities and other parties.

  • Using or even having a fake marriage certificate can mean facing criminal prosecution, which can lead to fines, forfeiture of specific privileges, and even jail time.

There are a number of reasons why someone might be driven to obtain a fake Texas marriage certificate, including immigration fraud. In this article, we’re going to touch upon how to spot a fake Texas marriage certificate, the reasons someone might be motivated to get one, and how to avoid falling for a fake marriage certificate scam.

How to Spot a Fake Texas Marriage Certificate

Spotting a fake Texas marriage certificate involves looking for several key indicators.

wedding rings and fake texas marriage certificate

You might think that the concern surrounding fake marriage certificates is unwarranted, but the truth is it happens more than you think. For example, here is a case involving a woman who admitted to providing non-residents with fake proof of their marriage for immigration purposes from only a few years ago.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important things you’ll want to look for if you’re concerned that a marriage certificate is fraudulent.

Paper Quality and Watermarks

Genuine Texas marriage certificates are printed on high-quality paper and have watermarks or other specific security features.

hands with wedding rings and fake texas marriage certificate

If the paper feels cheap or flimsy, or if it lacks any watermarking that should be present according to state guidelines, it could be fake.

Seal and Signature

Authentic certificates must have a raised or embossed seal from the state or county office, not merely printed.

There should also be a legitimate signature from the county clerk or another authorized official. If the seal looks flat or the signature seems printed, those are red flags.

Spelling and Grammar

Look for any spelling or grammatical errors, particularly in the names of the parties or the officiant or in the titles and locations of the authorities that issued the document.

  • Official documents typically undergo reviews to avoid such mistakes– if something seems off in this way, it should be cause for concern!

Inconsistencies in Fonts and Printing

Official documents usually use consistent fonts and printing techniques.

wedding rings and fake texas marriage certificate

For this reason, if you notice multiple fonts being used without clear reason or if the print quality is poor, that could indicate a counterfeit.

Incorrect Information

Perhaps one of the first things you’ll want to look at when trying to determine if a marriage certificate is fake is checking to see if the basic info is correct.

  • You’ll want to verify the names, places, and dates that are printed on the certificate.

Any incorrect information might suggest a forgery, especially if the details do not match other records or if there are otherwise unexplainable discrepancies in dates and locations.

Serial Number and Registration

If you are trying to determine whether a Texas marriage document is legitimate or fraudulent, look for the serial number printed on the certificate.

wedding rings and fake texas marriage certificate

Genuine marriage certificates will have a serial number and are registered with local government offices. If there’s a number present, you can check its authenticity by contacting the county clerk’s office to confirm that the number matches their records.

If the numbers don’t match their records, you may have fraud on your hands! If they do, you can rest assured that the document is legitimate.

Physical Damage or Alterations

Fraudsters have gotten pretty good at making fake documents. At the same time, not all forgeries are nearly as convincing as others.

When checking the legitimacy of a marriage certificate, look for signs of tampering, such as erasures, whiteouts, or physical alterations. If you find any of these, it could definitely be a sign of forgery.

Incorrect Formatting

The layout and format should comply with the state’s standards– if something is a little off, then there is probably something fishy going on!

If the certificate's format looks significantly different from other Texas marriage certificates, it might be counterfeit.

When All Else Fails: Consult an Expert

If you're still unsure about whether or not a specific Texas marriage certificate is fake, consult with a legal expert or a representative from the Texas Vital Statistics Office.

They're going to have a lot more experience than the average layman when it comes to determining whether the document is legitimate, and they’ll be able to provide guidance and verify the authenticity of the document.

Are you searching for more information about marriage and divorce in Texas? Make sure you check out our guides to family law in the Lonestar State:

Why Would Someone Have a Fake Texas Marriage Certificate?

For most regular folks, the idea of purposefully obtaining a fake Texas marriage certificate seems a bit odd. However, there are several reasons why someone might have fake marital documents.

Immigration Fraud

One of the most common reasons for using a fake marriage certificate is to mislead immigration authorities. This could be part of an attempt to gain residency or citizenship through marriage when the actual legal marriage actually never took place.

Insurance Benefits

Another reason someone might present a fake marriage certificate is to add a partner to an insurance policy.

This is particularly likely if a specific insurance policy offers benefits to spouses that are not available to unmarried couples.

Inheritance or Estate Planning

Though less common than the above two reasons, another motivating factor for obtaining a fake marriage license in Texas has to do with claiming an inheritance.

For instance, some might use a fraudulent marriage certificate to claim inheritance or rights to a deceased partner’s estate, especially if there was no formal marriage but, instead, an informal (common law) marriage.

Financial Gains

Married couples often receive benefits like tax breaks, housing allowances, or loan opportunities that single people or unmarried couples can’t take advantage of.

A fake marriage certificate might be used to illegitimately claim such financial advantages when a couple wants to benefit from the legal status of marriage without actually getting hitched.

Identity Theft or Misrepresentation

Fake documents, including marriage certificates, can be used as part of schemes involving identity theft, misrepresentation, or other types of fraud.

Since marriage certificates are official documents that can be used to verify someone’s identity and other information, fraudulent certificates can be obtained as a part of a greater pattern of fraudulent activity.

When it comes to the legal aspects of marriage and divorce, knowledge is power. Here are some more resources for you to check out:

How to Avoid Getting a Fake Texas Marriage Certificate

If you’re getting married, the last thing you want to do is get scammed into receiving an illegitimate marriage certificate. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to make sure you are going through the proper channels and obtaining official, non-fraudulent documentation.

Go Through the Proper Channels

In order to make sure you don’t fall prey to a marriage certificate scam, make sure you obtain your marriage certificate directly from the county clerk's office where your marriage was recorded.

This is the most reliable source for an authentic document and avoids many of the complicating factors that can crop up if you try to go another route.

Verify the Source

If you are obtaining a marriage certificate through a third party, verify that they are a legitimate and authorized entity. This can usually be done by checking with the Texas Department of State Health Services or the specific county clerk's office.

Be Wary of Online Services

While there are legitimate online services for obtaining official documents, there are also many scams and scammers out there.

Use only recognized, official websites for the State of Texas or the specific county and make sure you avoid services that seem overly fast or unusually cheap. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Avoid Rush Decisions

In some instances, you might be motivated to try and move things forward faster than normal for one reason or another.

It’s important to recognize that scammers often pressure their victims to make fast decisions. Regardless of the reason for your hurry, it’s important to take your time, especially if you're feeling rushed or if something feels off.

Report Suspicious Activity

If you encounter suspicious services or individuals offering marriage certificates, report them to the authorities, such as local law enforcement or the Texas Attorney General's Office.

This way, you can do your part to make sure that the scammers don’t continue causing issues for unknowing individuals and the authorities as well.

Navigating Marriage and Divorce in Texas

For most people, the idea of getting a fake Texas marriage certificate wouldn’t even cross their mind. However, some are driven to obtain fraudulent marriage documents for immigration reasons, insurance purposes, or other motivations.

Whether you’re trying to verify if a marriage certificate is legitimate or you want to make sure you don’t fall prey to a marriage license scam, the info in this article should help protect you and your interests.

Are you searching for more resources about divorce and marriage in Texas? If so, make sure you check out our Texas Family Law blog.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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