Marriage License Requirements
If you’re planning to tie the knot in California, understanding the intricacies of marriage licenses is essential. Whether you’re opting for a public marriage license or a confidential one, there are specific requirements and procedures you should be aware of. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover all the important aspects you need to know before you say “I do.”
Preparing for a wedding involves a whirlwind of decisions and tasks. One of the most critical steps is obtaining a marriage license. California offers two types of marriage licenses: public and confidential. Each type has its own set of rules and regulations to follow.
Types of Marriage Licenses in California
Public Marriage License
A public marriage license is available for public viewing. It doesn’t restrict access to the personal information on the license. However, obtaining a copy of this information requires a court order or a notarized application from either spouse.
Confidential Marriage License
On the other hand, a confidential marriage license keeps all personal information confidential. Only the spouses themselves or authorized individuals with a court order can access the information.
To apply for a marriage license, both individuals (referred to as Party A and Party B) must appear together in person. They need to provide proof of age and identification. Acceptable identification includes a valid photo I.D. with birth date, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military I.D. In cases where the I.D. does not show the full legal name, a certified copy of the birth certificate is required.
Living Together Requirement
For a confidential marriage license, Party A and Party B must be living together as a married couple. This requirement doesn’t apply to a public marriage license.
Waiting Period and Residency Requirement
California doesn’t have a waiting period for marriage licenses. You’ll receive the license immediately after submitting your application. You also don’t need to be a California resident to marry in the state.
Previous Marriages and Registered Domestic Partnerships
If either party has been divorced within 90 days of applying for a new marriage license, a certified copy of the final divorce decree must be presented. If there’s a Registered Domestic Partnership (RDP), it doesn’t need to be dissolved before obtaining a marriage license.
Marriage License Fees
The cost for a marriage license in California is $59 for a public license and $77.50 for a confidential license (fees subject to change). Cash is the preferred payment method, and out-of-state checks are not accepted.
Proxy Marriages, Cousin Marriages, and Common Law Marriages
Proxy marriages are not allowed in California. First and second cousins are legally allowed to marry, but common law marriages are not recognized.
Marriage Blood Test and Name Change
Unlike in some states, blood tests are not required for obtaining a marriage license in California. Additionally, getting a marriage license with a new name does not automatically change your name; a separate process is required.
Marriage Age Requirement
If either partner is under 18, one parent or legal guardian must be present. If unavailable due to specific circumstances, proper evidence must be provided for verification. A counselor appointment and appearance before a superior court judge are necessary.
Authorized Marriage Officiants
Various individuals can solemnize marriage ceremonies in California, including priests, ministers, judges, and certain officials. The officiant must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder within 10 days of the ceremony.
Returning the Marriage License
After marriage, a copy of the marriage license is not automatically provided. If you want a certified copy, you must request and pay for it from the County Clerk or County Recorder.
Witnesses and Expiration Date
A public marriage license requires one or two witnesses, while a confidential marriage license doesn’t. Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from issuance, after which they must be renewed.
If you need assistance or information related to marriage licenses, you can contact the Marriage Section at (831) 755-5450 or listen to the information recording at (831) 755-5032.
Obtaining a marriage license is a crucial step on your journey to marital bliss. Whether you opt for a public or confidential license, understanding the requirements and processes involved will ensure a smooth and legally valid marriage. Take the time to gather the necessary documents and follow the steps outlined in this guide to make your wedding day a truly memorable one.
- Can I apply for a marriage license online? Currently, California doesn’t offer online marriage license applications. Both parties must appear in person.
- Is a confidential marriage license more secure? Yes, a confidential marriage license keeps personal information private and requires special authorization for access.
- Are same-sex marriages legal in California? Yes, California recognizes and allows same-sex marriages.
- Can I use an out-of-state marriage license in California? No, you must obtain a marriage license specific to California to marry within the state.
- What should I do if there’s an error on my marriage license? Contact the County Clerk’s Office for guidance on correcting any errors on your marriage license.