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What are the marriage laws in California?

Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is a bond that binds couples in love and provides them with legal protection, various benefits, and societal recognition. In the United States, marriage is a state-regulated institution, and each state has its unique laws governing it. In this blog post, we will discuss the marriage laws in California.

The Legal Age to Get Married in California

In California, people who are at least 18 years old and have legal capacity can get married. Legal capacity means that an individual must be able to understand the nature, effect, and consequences of getting married. Minors who are 16 or 17 years old can also get married in California, but they need the consent of their parents or legal guardians. Minors must also obtain a court order before they can get married in California.

It is worth noting that California is one of the many states that require minors to obtain court approval before they can marry. This requirement is aimed at reducing cases of child marriages, which have severe consequences on minors’ physical and mental health.

Issuance of Marriage Licenses in California

Before getting married in California, couples must obtain a marriage license. The license is a legal document that allows couples to get married in California. To obtain a marriage license in California, couples must follow these steps:

  1. Go to the county clerk’s office in the county where they plan to get married
  2. Submit an application and pay a fee of $35 – $100 (depending on the county)
  3. Provide valid identification documents such as driver’s licenses, passports, or birth certificates
  4. Provide social security numbers (optional)
  5. Complete a confidential marriage license application
  6. Wait for three days before the license becomes valid
  7. The couple must get married within 90 days after the license is issued

It is also essential to note that California allows for confidential marriages. A confidential marriage license allows partners to keep their marriage records private, and they do not have to be disclosed to the public. However, certain individuals can access confidential marriage records, including the couple, the county clerk, and government agencies.

Who Can Perform Marriages in California?

In California, various individuals can perform marriages, including religious leaders, judges, and designated deputy marriage commissioners. Couples who want to have a family member or friend perform the marriage can do so if the friend or family member obtains ordination and is in good standing with their religious organization.

Grounds for Annulment, Divorce, and Separation in California

Couples can end their marriage through an annulment or divorce in California. An annulment is a legal process that declares that a marriage is void, meaning that the marriage was invalid from the beginning. A divorce, on the other hand, is a legal process that terminates a valid marriage.

California has a no-fault divorce policy, meaning that couples do not have to prove that one person was at fault for the marriage’s failure. The only grounds for divorce in California are irreconcilable differences. However, couples can still opt for a fault-based divorce if they can prove that one person was at fault, for instance, due to domestic violence.


Getting married is an exciting process, but it comes with legal obligations that couples must adhere to. In California, couples must be at least 18 years old to get married or have parental consent if they are minors. Couples are also required to obtain a marriage license from the county clerk before getting married. It is essential to understand California’s marriage laws to ensure that the marriage is legal, recognized, and protected.


Is California a common law state for marriage?

California is a state that has its own laws and regulations when it comes to marriage. Unlike some states, California does not recognize common-law marriages. This means that if you and your partner decide to live together for many years, you will not automatically have the rights and privileges of a married couple unless you file for a legal marriage license.

A common-law marriage is a legal relationship between two people who have lived together for an extended period of time as if they were married, but without the formal process of obtaining a marriage license or having a ceremony. In these states, once a couple lives together for a certain length of time and meets other requirements, they are considered legally married and have the same rights and protections as couples who went through the formal marriage process.

However, in California, there is no such provision for common-law marriage. This means that even if you and your partner live together for twenty years, if you have not taken the steps to become legally married, you will not have the same legal rights and protections as married couples. This could have important implications for things like inheritance, alimony, child custody, and more.

It’s important to note that while California does not recognize common-law marriages that originated in California, it might recognize common-law marriages that were established in other states or countries that do have common-law marriage laws. However, the couple would have to prove that they meet the requirements for a valid common-law marriage in that other jurisdiction.

While some states do recognize common-law marriages, California is not one of them. If you want to enjoy the legal rights and benefits of marriage in California, you will need to go through the formal process of obtaining a marriage license and having a ceremony in accordance with California laws and regulations.

How long do you have to be married to get half in California?

In California, the division of property in a divorce is based on community property laws. This means that any assets or property acquired by either spouse during the marriage are generally split 50/50 in the event of divorce, regardless of who earned more income or whose name is on the title or deed. However, it is important to note that splitting assets 50/50 does not necessarily mean you get half of each asset.

When it comes to spousal support, there is no specific minimum duration before a spouse may receive alimony. California family courts consider a variety of factors when ordering alimony, including the earning capacity of each spouse, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and the age and health of each spouse.

While some people may believe that a marriage must last a certain amount of time before spousal support is awarded, there is no such requirement in California. For short-term marriages, which are generally considered to be marriages lasting less than 10 years, spousal support is typically awarded for half the duration of the marriage.

For marriages that last longer than 10 years, spousal support may be awarded indefinitely until the receiving spouse remarries, dies, or the court orders it to end. However, it is important to note that these are general guidelines and every case is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long you have to be married to get half in California.

The decision of whether to award spousal support and for how long depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. A skilled family law attorney can help guide you through the process and ensure you get the best possible outcome in your divorce.

Can I get a marriage license and get married the same day in California?

In California, it is possible to obtain a marriage license and get married on the same day through the Same Day Marriage option. This option is available to couples who are prepared and ready to commit to each other, without the need for a waiting period between obtaining the license and actually getting married.

To begin the process, you will need to make an appointment at your local county clerk’s office to obtain a marriage license. The requirements to obtain a marriage license include both parties being over 18 years old and providing government-issued photo identification. Additionally, some counties also require a birth certificate or social security card.

Once you have obtained your marriage license, you can then schedule an appointment for a same day marriage ceremony. This is typically done at the county clerk’s office, and you will need to bring your marriage license and your government-issued photo ID. It is important to note that some counties may have additional requirements or restrictions for same day marriages, so it is recommended that you contact your local county clerk for more information.

If you choose to go ahead with a same day marriage ceremony, it is important to remember that you are legally committing to one another, so it is important to make sure that you and your partner are both fully prepared and committed to this decision. It is also important to ensure that you have all the necessary documents and requirements in place before the ceremony to avoid any delays or complications.

While you can obtain a marriage license and get married on the same day in California, it is important to carefully consider your decision and ensure that you have met all the necessary requirements before proceeding with a same day marriage ceremony.