Marriage in California: age, annulment

Marriage in California: laws, community property, age, License, Register, annulment. Marriage is a union of two souls; according to the plan of God. These bonds bind two people together for the rest of their lives. Each country follows its procedure concerning marriages in its respective jurisdictions. Similarly, California has its laws and process regarding marriages.

Marriage in California: laws, community property, age, License, Register
Marriage in California: laws, community property, age, License, Register

Many states require a marriage licence to marry, while some do not. But does California law require a marriage licence to validate a marriage

What are the age requirements to get married under California law? 

How to Get a Marriage Licence in California?

 Read the full write-up to get answers to all your questions.

Marriage laws in California

California, a state known for its unique wedding styles and beautiful venues, requires every couple to get a marriage licence to legalise their marriage.

According to sec 308.5, under California family law, a marriage between a man and a woman only gets reckoned as a valid marriage. Any other form of marriage in California gets regarded as illegal. 

California Family Code section 300 defines marriage as a personal relationship arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman. In California marriage law, there are three requirements to get married;

  1. Both the parties must be at least 18 years old(without consent of the parents) or below 18 years old(with the parent’s consent and the permission of the court)
  2. Both parties must give their consent.
  3. They must not be incapable of consenting.

Here consent means free will. They must not be under the influence, misrepresentation, fraud, duress, or intoxication. If these requirements get met, they are allowed to get married.

To solemnise a marriage consent of both the parties to the marriage is necessary, but the consent does not constitute a marriage alone. Although consent is required, a marriage licence and solemnization according to state law are essential. For these purposes, the United States or California residency is not mandatory. Californians allow every person, either resident or non-resident of the state, to obtain a valid marriage licence under the state law.

In a nutshell, California marriage law requires a couple to obtain a marriage licence and then have a wedding ceremony within 90 days of issuance of the licence. If the couple misses the date to solemnise marriage, they need to apply for a marriage licence. 

Besides, this licence is your marriage pass. The officiant will not allow you to marry without showing your marriage licence, so bring it along on the wedding day.

To obtain a marriage licence a couple needs to follow a simple procedure and submit their identity proof as prescribed.

Common law marriage in california

California does not recognize common law marriage. This means that if two people live together in California, they are not considered married unless they have gone through the legal process of getting married. There is no set number of years that a couple must live together in order to be considered common law married in California.

There are a few states that do recognize common law marriage, but California is not one of them. If you are considering moving to California from a state that recognizes common law marriage, it is important to be aware of this fact. If you are already living in California and you believe that you may be in a common law marriage, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your legal options.

Here are some of the reasons why California does not recognize common law marriage:

  • There is no clear definition of what constitutes a common law marriage.
  • It can be difficult to prove that a couple meets the requirements for a common law marriage.
  • Common law marriage can lead to legal uncertainty, especially if the couple later separates.

If you are not married in California, you will not have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a married couple. This includes things like:

  • Your right to inherit property from your partner
  • The authority to make medical decisions for your partner
  • The privilege to file a joint tax return
  • The eligibility to receive spousal support in the event of a divorce

If you are in a long-term relationship with a partner and you want to have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a married couple, you should consider getting legally married. You can do this by getting a civil marriage or a religious marriage.

If you have any questions about common law marriage in California, you should consult with an attorney.

Marriage in California and Community property:

“What is mine is yours, what is yours is mine” these lines define community property. 

Community property is also known as joint property or assets. When a man marries a woman, they become a community, and all the things they own individually during the marriage become their community property. A married male and female; count as one unit. They share equal responsibilities and a duty to care for each other. 

California gets reckoned as a community property state which means that when two persons tie a marriage bond in California, they become a community or union. All the debts, assets, and property that one person acquires during the marriage become the couple’s community property.

According to California family code section 760, all the property, either actual or personal, wherever situated owned by one spouse during the marriage becomes their community property. However, any property acquired before marriage does not count as community property. The person who owns the property has sole right over that property.

During divorcé, the community property gets distributed among both parties equally. Thus, whether the property is in the name of one spouse, they have equal rights on the property.

Domestic partnership vs marriage in california

Domestic partnerships and marriages are both legal ways to recognize a committed relationship in California. In spite of this, the two have several notable differences.


– Marriage represents a legally binding contract between two individuals.

– The federal government recognizes marriage.

– Couples in marriage are granted access to a diverse array of legal rights and benefits.

Domestic Partnership

  • Domestic partnership is a legal status available to two individuals who meet specific requirements.
  • The federal government does not acknowledge domestic partnerships.
  • Domestic partnerships afford couples some, though not all, of the legal rights and benefits associated with marriage.

Here is a table of the key differences between domestic partnerships and marriages in California:

CharacteristicDomestic PartnershipMarriage
Legal statusNot a legally binding contractLegally binding contract
Recognition by federal governmentNot recognizedRecognized
Legal rights and benefitsSome, but not all, of the rights and benefits of marriageA wide range of rights and benefits
TerminationCan be terminated by filing a Notice of Termination with the Secretary of StateCan be terminated by filing for divorce

Which is right for you?

The choice between entering into a domestic partnership or marriage is a personal matter. There is no definitive right or wrong answer, as the most suitable decision for you will hinge on your unique circumstances.
If you are looking for a legal status that gives you the same rights and benefits as marriage, then marriage is the best option for you.

However, if you are not interested in getting married for religious or personal reasons, then a domestic partnership may be a good alternative.
It is important to talk to an attorney to discuss your individual circumstances and to get legal advice about the best way to recognize your relationship.

What is the legal age for marriage in California?

The legal age to get married differs from country to country. 

Like most countries, California prescribes 18 years as the appropriate age for getting married. According to California family code, section 301, an unmarried man and woman of 18 years or older, capable of giving consent can legally get married in California. 

Thus, to get married in California, both parties must meet the required age criteria of 18 years or above. They are not required to get their parents’ consent for marriage.

However, if either party or both parties are below 18 years of age, they can get married but with the court’s permission.

According to California family code section 302, if either party or both the parties are below 18 years of age and capable of making consent, they can get married if they submit the following document to the county clerk authorised to issue a marriage licence:

  1. Minors’ parents or guardians wrote consent 
  2. Court permission to marry

After submitting the following documents to the county clerk, submit the other required documents, such as identity proof and birth certificate, and they can get a marriage licence.

Besides, both parties need to participate in premarital counselling (section 304 under the California family code). The primary purpose of these premarital counselling is to make both parties aware of their social, economic, and personal responsibilities. Thus, California law does not forbid a minor person to get married in any part of the state.

How to get a Marriage Licence in California:

Every couple willing to get married in California requires to get a marriage licence and organise a marriage ceremony within 90 days of such issuance. The marriage licence requirements under California law are different for public(regular) marriages and confidential marriages. 

In order to obtain a regular marriage licence, the couple needs to visit the county recorder and apply for a marriage licence. You need to provide some identification proof and information along with the requisite fees. As per California family law;

  • Both the parties willing to get married must apply in person to any country clerk office in California. The parties need not apply to the county office where they live or where they are getting married. They can apply to any county office in California. Get a prior appointment, as there may be a waiting line.
  • After applying, submit your identity proof, such as a driving licence, passport, and birth certificate.
  • The parties are required to pay a fee for marriage licence issuance.Please note that costs may change between counties.
  • If either party is previously married, they are required to submit their divorce proof or death certificate of the former spouse.
  • The marriage licence will immediately get issued after receiving the consent of both parties. They do not have any waiting period to issue a licence.
  • After getting your marriage licence; you need to organise a marriage ceremony within 90 days from the date of issuance of a licence. Once you miss the deadline to solemnise your marriage, you need to reply for the marriage licence.
  • Bring your licence along with you. Officials will not allow you to marry if you do not have a marriage licence physically presented to you during the marriage ceremony.
  • One or two witnesses are required at the time of the marriage ceremony.
  • After Solemnising your marriage, you need to submit the licence to the county office within10 days. You can apply for the certified copy within10 days of the solemnization of your wedding.

How to Register Marriage in California:

Registering for marriage in California is not a daunting task. Every individual wishing to get married in California needs to register their marriage in the county clerk’s court before their marriage ceremony. To register your marriage in California, follow these simple steps:

  • You need to apply to any county clerk for obtaining a marriage licence. 
  • The county clerk will ask you to submit identification proof and birth certificates. Submit all documents along with the required fees.
  • After reviewing all the documents, the county clerk will immediately issue a marriage licence. There is no waiting period for such issuance in California.
  • The marriage licence remains valid for 90 days. Within 90 days, the parties must get married. If the parties miss the deadline, they need to apply for a new marriage licence.
  • After solemnising your marriage, the authorised person who performed your marriage ceremony will return the marriage licence to the county recorder within; 10 days of the marriage ceremony.
  • After receiving the marriage licence, the county recorder will record your marriage licence. The marriage licence then becomes a marriage certificate.
  • To obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate, you need to apply and pay the fees to the county within; 10 days.

Following these steps, you can get your marriage registered in California.

How to annul a marriage in california

Here are the steps on how to annul a marriage in California:

  1. Determine if you are eligible for an annulment. There are only a few reasons why a marriage can be annulled in California. These reasons include:
    • Bigamy: If you were already married to someone else when you got married to your current spouse.
    • Mental incapacity: If you were not mentally capable of understanding the nature of marriage at the time you got married.
    • Force or duress: If you were forced or coerced into getting married.
    • Fraud: If your spouse lied to you about something important, such as their identity or their ability to have children, in order to get you to marry them.
    • Incest: If you married a close relative.
    • Underage: If you were under the age of 18 when you got married and did not have a judge’s permission to marry.
  2. File a petition for annulment. You can file a petition for annulment in the Superior Court of the county where you or your spouse live.The petition must be supported by the following information:
    • Your name and your spouse’s name.
    • The date of your marriage.
    • The reason why you are seeking an annulment.
    • Any other relevant information, such as the names of any witnesses who can testify about your marriage.
  3. Serve your spouse with the petition. Once you have filed your petition, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. This can be done by having a process server deliver the petition to your spouse in person, or by mailing the petition to your spouse’s last known address.
  4. Attend a hearing. Once your spouse has been served with the petition, the court will schedule a hearing to consider your request for an annulment. At the hearing, you will have the chance to present evidence in support of your claim, and your spouse will have the chance to present evidence in opposition to your claim.
  5. Get a judgment of annulment. If the court finds that you are entitled to an annulment, it will issue a judgment of annulment. This judgment will declare that your marriage was never valid.

It is important to note that annulments are not always granted. The court will only grant an annulment if it finds that one of the reasons for annulment listed above applies to your case. If the court does not grant your annulment, you may be able to file for a divorce instead.

If you are considering annulling your marriage, it is important to talk to an attorney to discuss your options. An attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for an annulment and can represent you at the hearing.

Read also: Adultery in California; Marriage in Florida

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