California Marriage

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Under California marriage laws, a valid marriage license is required to get married in California. The details for obtaining a marriage license are described below. Also, California marriage laws place requirements on minors to obtain parental consent and possibly counseling before getting married.


California Marriage Consent Laws

  • With Parental Consent: Individuals under 18 years of age must have at least one parent or legal guardian appear with the couple. The minor should also provide a certified copy of their birth certificate. The couple may also be required to see a counselor and appear before a California Superior Court judge.
  • Without Parental Consent: Individuals 18 and older may marry in California without parental consent.


California Common Law Marriage

California does not recognize common law marriages.


California Marriage License

  • Residency:  Individuals do not have to reside in California.
  • Identification Required:  Both parties must appear in person with valid picture identification including date of birth and an expiration date, such as a state driver’s license. It’s also a good idea to bring a copy of your birth certificate, as well as information such as your parents’ names, maiden names, and their places of birth.
  • Tests: None.
  • Appearance/Proxy:  Proxy marriages are not allowed in California.
  • Previous Marriages:  Individuals must provide the dates that previous marriages were dissolved (i.e. the date of divorce, or the date of the former spouse’s death). A certified divorce decree may be required for recent divorces, depending on the county.
  • Length of License:  California marriage licenses are valid for 90 days.
  • Civil Marriage Ceremonies:  Many California counties perform civil marriage ceremonies. Contact that county clerk’s office in your county for more information.
  • Fees:  The fee for a California marriage license is generally $40, with some variances depending on the county. Also, some counties may only accept cash.
  • Filling Out the License/Submitting the License:  All information on the marriage license must be legible and reproducible. Cross-outs and white-outs will render the license invalid and you will have to pay for a duplicate to be issued.
  • Copies: Couples will not receive a copy of their marriage license unless expressly requesting a certified copy from the county clerk or county recorder’s office. Fees may apply.
  • Authorized California Officiants:  California marriages may be “solemnized” by a number of different parties, including a priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination, any judge, or any retired judge.

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