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Southern California Marriage License Information

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Marriage license Laws in the state of California, here is what you need to bring with you, and what you need to know about the California marriage laws before filling out the California marriage license form.

Requirements vary as each marriage license bureau in California have their own requirements. If you have questions, please contact the appropriate California clerk's office listed below.

It is important that you verify all information with your local marriage license office or county clerk before making any wedding or travel plans.

In order to get married, you need to apply and receive a marriage license. This is the document in your state that allows you to officially tie the knot under the law. The rules for acquiring your marriage license varies from state to state, so you should check with your city's marriage bureau at your clerk of court's office to find out what your local rules are.

You'll typically need to apply for your marriage license at least one month before your wedding ceremony. You'll traditionally need to send in your birth certificates, tax information, and other official documents. You don't, however, want to apply for your marriage license too early. In some states, the licenses do expire, if you don't get married within a few months.

When you apply for your license, you'll not only need a proof of identification and age, will need to provide any information about previous marriages, and will need to pay a nominal fee. You will also need to have a witness when you sign the application, so plan on bringing your maid of honor or best man with you. The bride will need to know what her married name will be before she signs the marriage certificate. You'll have to write that name on the application.

And, believe it or not, just because you have your marriage license sent to you in the mail does not mean you are officially married. You need to have a justice of the peace or a religious clergyman sign the document. On your wedding day, you'll give your chaplain your marriage license, then after the ceremony, he'll sign it and send it to the proper government agency for validation.

Appointment Suggested: It is recommended that you call the County or City Clerk's office to see if they suggest setting an appointment. You could find yourselves in a long line with as much as a 2 hour wait without an appointment in some locales.

ID Requirement: Picture id such as Drivers License or other valid identification. Some counties recommend bringing certified copies of your birth certificates. Know your parents names, mothers' maiden name and places of their birth.

Application Requirement: Both the bride and groom must appear in person at the time of applying.

Residency Requirement: Do not have to be a resident of California.

Waiting Period: No waiting period.

Previous Marriages: You must show proof of divorce, death or annulment. You need to bring a copy of your final divorce decree if you have divorced within the 90 days through past year (varies by county.)

Fees: $40.00. Some counties will only accept cash.

Other Tests: No tests.

Under 18: If either the bride or groom is under 18, at least one of the minor's parents,
or legal guardian, must appear with the couple. Certified copies of birth certificates are required. The couple must also schedule an appointment with a counselor and then appear before a superior court judge.

Proxy Marriages: No.

Cousin Marriages: Yes.

Common Law Marriages: No.

Same Sex Marriages: No. However, Domestic Partnership Certificates are available in San Francisco, Marin Counties and here. One partner must live or work in that county and both must have photo ID.

Officiants: Any priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination, of the age of 18 years or over may perform marriages. Ministers must complete the marriage license and return it to the county clerk within 4 days after the marriage.

Valid: License is valid for 90 days.
The license can only be used within the State of California.

Confidential License: A regular marriage license is a public record. A license and Certificate of Confidential Marriage is only accessible by the husband, wife, or by decree signed by a superior court judge. At least one witness is required to observe the solemnization for a regular, public ceremony. No witnesses are required to observe a confidential marriage ceremony. A regular license may be used throughout the state. However, the confidential license may only be used in the county of issue. The confidential license costs $80.00 same as the regular license.

Solemnization Authority : Marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older:

  1. A Priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination.
  2. A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state.
  3. A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
  4. Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States:
    1. A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.
    2. A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the Judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
    3. A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
    4. A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
    5. A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office.

    Each county offers civil ceremonies performed by a judge or commissioner. The cost is approximately $40.00. For additional information call your County Clerk's office.

    Valid: License is valid for 90 days.

    It is important that you verify all information with your local marriage license office or county clerk before making any wedding or travel plans.

    Please Note: State and county marriage license requirements often change. The above information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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