Getting married in any one of California's 58 counties is fairly easy. You'll just need to follow a few simple steps before you can walk down the aisle. This includes applying for a marriage license through your County Clerk's office, having an eligible person officiate over the ceremony, and filing the original marriage license with the County Recorder within ten days.
Here's a summary of California's most common marriage license requirements.
Is there an Age Requirement?
Each state has its own age requirement for getting hitched. In California, you have to be 18-years-old to tie the knot. Anyone under 18 has to get written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) and permission from a California superior court judge.
Do We Have to be Residents of California?
You and your significant other do not need to be California residents to marry in California.
Can Same-Sex Partners Get Married?
Yes. As of June 26, 2013 same-sex couples are allowed to legally marry in California.
Where Can I Get My Marriage License?
You can apply for a marriage license at any of the County Clerk's office's throughout the state. Many counties allow you to download the form online ahead of time. You and your spouse-to-be will have to both appear in person and bring valid picture identification, such as:
- A state issued identification card;
- Driver's license;
- Passport; or
- Military identification.
Some counties require you to bring a copy of your birth certificate. Also, be sure to double-check the amount of the filing fee for your county.
I Was Married to Someone Else Before. Does It Matter?
Yes. If you have been married or were in a State Registered Domestic Partnership, you will need to know the specific date your last marriage ended, and how it ended (death, dissolution, divorce, or nullity). Some counties may require a copy of the final judgment if your previous marriage ended by dissolution or nullity.
Do I Have to Get Married in the Same County Where I Obtained My Marriage License?
No, you can get married anywhere in California. Make sure the person officiating your ceremony returns the license to the county where you applied. So, if you got your marriage license in Santa Clara County, you can have your dream wedding on the beach in Santa Monica, but make sure the license is filed back in Santa Clara.
How Long is My Marriage License Valid?
Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you don't get married within 90 days, the license won't be valid and you'll have to reapply.
Can My Best Friend Preside Over the Ceremony?
Yes, many counties allow someone other than a priest, clergy, or judge to preside and solemnize your marriage, but he or she needs to be deputized to perform the ceremony. You'll also need to have one witness present at your wedding. There's no age requirement for a witness -- he or she must be old enough to know they are witnessing a wedding and be able to sign their own name.
How Soon After the Wedding Ceremony Do I Need to File the Marriage License?
Make sure the person who solemnizes your wedding signs the marriage license and returns it to the County Recorder's office within ten days.
Will I Automatically Receive An Official Copy of My Marriage License?
No, you'll have to spend a little more time (and money) to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. You'll fill out an application and pay a fee.
The following table highlights the main provisions of California's Marriage Laws. See Marriage Laws Overview, Prenuptial Agreements, Tips for Marriage, and Marriage FAQs for additional, general information on those topics.
||Family Code §300-310, §359, §400-425
||18 years old, or under 18 with written consent from one parent and permission from a California superior court judge
|Same Sex Marriage
|Blood Test Requirement
|Where to Obtain Marriage License
||County Clerk's Office
|How Long is the License Valid
||90 Days from Date of Issuance
|Confidential Marriage License Requirements
||See Family Code §500-511
Want More Information About Marriage Laws? Talk to an Attorney
Although it is fairly simple to get married in California, you may have questions or concerns about the different terms in the marriage license application or your case might be especially complex. If you need help with your specific case, then you may want to speak with an experienced California family law attorney.