California Legal Codes Relating to Marriage


California Penal Code

360. Every person authorized to solemnize any marriage, who solemnizes a marriage without first being presented with the marriage license, as required by Section 421 of the Family Code; or who solemnizes a marriage pursuant to Part 4 (commencing with Section 500) of Division 3 of the Family Code without the authorization required by that part; or who willfully makes a false return of any marriage or pretended marriage to the recorder or clerk and every person who willfully makes a false record of any marriage return, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

California Family Code

300. Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4 (commencing with Section 500).

306. Except as provided in Section 307, a marriage shall be licensed, solemnized, and authenticated, and the certificate of registry of marriage shall be returned as provided in this part. Noncompliance with this part by a nonparty to the marriage does not invalidate the marriage.   

307. This division, so far as it relates to the solemnizing of marriage, is not applicable to members of a particular religious society or denomination not having clergy for the purpose of solemnizing marriage or entering the marriage relation, if all of the following requirements are met:

  1. The parties to the marriage make, sign, and endorse on or attach to the license a statement, in the form prescribed by the State Department of Health Services, showing all of the following:
  1. The fact, time, and place of entering into the marriage.
  2. The signatures and places of residence of two witnesses to the ceremony.
  3. The [name of the] religious society or denomination of the parties to the marriage, and that the marriage was entered into in accordance with the rules and customs of that religious society or denomination.The statement of the parties to the marriage that the marriage was entered into in accordance with the rules and customs of the religious society or denomination is conclusively presumed to be true.
  1. The License and Certificate of Declaration of Marriage, endorsed pursuant to subdivision (a), is returned to the county recorder of _________ (the county in which the license was issued) within 30 days after the ceremony.

309. If either party to a marriage denies the marriage, or refuses to join in a declaration of the marriage, the other party may proceed, by action, to have the validity of the marriage determined and declared.   

400. 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.
  1. 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.

401.

  1. For each county, the county clerk is designated as a commissioner of civil marriages.
  2. The commissioner of civil marriages may appoint deputy commissioners of civil marriages who may solemnize marriages under the direction of the commissioner of civil marriages and shall perform other duties directed by the commissioner.

402. In addition to the persons permitted to solemnize marriages under Section 400, a county may license officials of a nonprofit religious institution, whose articles of incorporation are registered with the Secretary of State, to solemnize the marriages of persons who are affiliated with or are members of the religious institution. The licensee shall possess the degree of doctor of philosophy and must perform religious services or rites for the institution on a regular basis. The marriages shall be performed without fee to the parties.   

422. The person solemnizing a marriage shall make, sign, and endorse upon or attach to the marriage license a statement, in the form prescribed by the State Department of Health Services, showing all of the following:

  1. The fact, date (month, day, year), and place (city and county) of solemnization.
  2. The names and places of residence of one or more witnesses to the ceremony.
  3. The official position of the person solemnizing the marriage, or of the denomination of which that person is a priest, minister, rabbi, or member of the clergy.
  4. The person solemnizing the marriage shall also type or print the person's name and address.   

423. The person solemnizing the marriage shall return the marriage license, endorsed as required in Section 422, to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the ceremony.   

425. If no record of the solemnization of a marriage previously contracted is known to exist, the parties may purchase a License and Certificate of Declaration of Marriage from the county clerk in the parties' county of residence.The license and certificate shall be returned to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued.   

500. When an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, not minors, have been living together as husband and wife, they may be married pursuant to this chapter by a person authorized to solemnize a marriage under Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 400) of Part 3, without the necessity of first obtaining health certificates.   

501. Except as provided in Section 502, a confidential marriage license shall be issued by the county clerk upon the personal appearance of the parties to be married and their payment of the fees required by Sections 26840.1 and 26840.8 of the Government Code and any fee imposed pursuant to the authorization of Section 26840.3 of the Government Code.

506. The confidential marriage license shall be presented to the person solemnizing the marriage.

  1. Upon performance of the ceremony, the confidential marriage certificate shall be filled out by the parties to the marriage and authenticated by the person solemnizing the marriage.
  2. The certificate shall be returned by the person solemnizing the marriage to the office of the county clerk in the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the ceremony.

509.

  1. A party to a confidential marriage may obtain a certified copy of the confidential marriage certificate from the county clerk of the county in which the certificate is filed in any of the following ways:
  2. By submitting the application for a certified copy of the confidential marriage certificate provided to the parties pursuant to Section 508.
  3. By personally appearing before a notary public or at the county clerk's office in the party's county of residence, producing proper identification, obtaining a certificate attesting to the party' s identity from the notary public or county clerk, and transmitting that certificate, together with a request for the certified copy of the confidential marriage certificate, to the county clerk of the county with which the certificate is filed.
  4. By personally appearing at the county clerk's office where the certificate is filed and producing proper identification.

NOTICE: It is the legal responsibility of the minister to comply with the laws of the respective state in which the marriage is solemnized. If a minister is not required to register his/her credentials in his/her state of residence and desires to perform a marriage in a state, which requires registration, it is the responsibility of the minister to be in accord with the state’s law in which the marriage is to be solemnized. 


Summary of Marriage Laws by State  
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