Summer wedding season has arrived!  Wedding invitations may start to fill up your mailbox.  In the alternative, you may be preparing to start a new life of marital bliss.  Here are five frequently asked questions if you are getting married in California.


  1. What are the marriage license, registration, and ceremony requirements?

According to California Family Code, Section 420(a), both parties must be present to apply for a marriage license and a particular form of ceremony is not required.


The two parties must be single and a minimum of 18 years old to marry without consent.


Both parties must have picture identification and fees vary contingent upon the county.

There is not a waiting period after issuance of the marriage license.  However, the marriage license is valid for 90 days and must be returned by the person solemnizing the marriage to the county where the license was issued within 10 days.


As stated in California Family Code 400, the marriage ceremony may be solemnized by:

“(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination.

(b) A judge or retired judge or commissioner of civil marriages.

(c) A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.

(d) 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, or a district court.

(3) A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.

(4) A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.

(e) A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a Member of Congress.”


  1. How many witnesses are required to obtain a marriage license?


In California, it depends on the type of marriage license.  For a public marriage license, there must be one witness present at the ceremony.  A confidential marriage license does not require any witnesses.


  1. Do I need a blood test or health exam to obtain a marriage license?


California does not require a blood test or health exam to obtain a marriage license.



  1. Does California have common-law marriage, same-sex marriage, or domestic partnerships?


Common-Law Marriage (living together with the same name): No.


Same-Sex Marriage (same-sex partners): Yes.


Domestic Partnerships (couples registered as domestic partners in California with the privileges and responsibilities of marriage): Yes.


  1. Whether California is a Common Law or Community Property Jurisdiction?

There are nine states that have adopted the community property system including California, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, and Wisconsin.

In a community property jurisdiction, each spouse contributes to the benefit of the marriage.  Profits and income are shared equally and each spouse owns 50% interest in all community property.  In some instances, spouses may have separate property owned and controlled solely.


The majority of states, 41, have adopted the common law property system.

In a common law property jurisdiction, each spouse is a separate individual with respect to legal and property rights.