State laws regulating age limits for marriage are generally similar, although California is one of just a few states lacking a minimum age for marriage. However, minors (under the age of 18) must obtain both parental consent and a court order before they may legally tie the knot. Although couples seldom get married before they reach the age of majority, it is made available primarily to allow pregnant minors to marry.
In addition to obtaining parental consent in order to get married, anyone who is under 18 must also see a pre-marriage counselor, appear before a judge, produce copies of your birth certificate, and even have a parent accompany you when you apply for your marriage license. Requirements for parental consent (and the presence of a parent when obtaining a license) may be waived if the parent has abandoned the family, is out of the country, or no longer living.
Even in states where there are statutory limits on how old individuals must be to get married (with parental consent), exceptions are made in certain situations -- including pregnancy or the presence of a child. Therefore, California is not too much different than other states when you consider how these laws are enforced.
The California Department of Public Health provides additional information about California marriage licenses.
The brief table below outlines the basics of California's marriage age requirement. See Marriage Requirements Basics: Consent, Age, and Capacity for more information, and check FindLaw's extensive Marriage Law section for more articles and resources covering a wide variety of topics.
||Family Code sec. 302
|Minimum Legal Age With Parental Consent
||No age minimum, but parental consent and court approval is required for all minors.
|Minimum Legal Age Without Parental Consent
||Minors under 18 need parental consent and a court order obtained on the showing the court requires. There is a 30-day waiting period from the date the court order permitting the marriage is signed to the date the marriage license can be requested, though this waiting period does not apply in all circumstances.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through a number of means, including the enactment of newly signed legislation and the decisions of higher courts. You may want to contact a California family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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No matter the age of the participants, marriage is a serious commitment that should be entered into with considerable thought. However, there are special considerations when minors want to marry. If you are a minor with plans to marry, you will want to learn more about California laws. Get in touch with a California family law attorney now to learn more.