Part 1. Validity Of Marriage of California Family Law Code >> Division 3. >> Part 1.
(a) Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil
contract between two persons, 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).
(b) For purposes of this part, the document issued by the county
clerk is a marriage license until it is registered with the county
recorder, at which time the license becomes a marriage certificate.
Two unmarried persons 18 years of age or older, who are not
otherwise disqualified, are capable of consenting to and consummating
(a) An unmarried person under 18 years of age is capable of
consenting to and consummating marriage upon obtaining a court order
granting permission to the underage person or persons to marry.
(b) The court order and written consent of the parents of each
underage person, or of one of the parents or the guardian of each
underage person shall be filed with the clerk of the court, and a
certified copy of the order shall be presented to the county clerk at
the time the marriage license is issued.
If it appears to the satisfaction of the court by application
of a minor that the minor requires a written consent to marry and
that the minor has no parent or has no parent capable of consenting,
the court may make an order consenting to the issuance of a marriage
license and granting permission to the minor to marry. The order
shall be filed with the clerk of the court and a certified copy of
the order shall be presented to the county clerk at the time the
marriage license is issued.
As part of the court order granting permission to marry under
Section 302 or 303, the court shall require the parties to the
prospective marriage of a minor to participate in premarital
counseling concerning social, economic, and personal responsibilities
incident to marriage, if the court considers the counseling to be
necessary. The parties shall not be required, without their consent,
to confer with counselors provided by religious organizations of any
denomination. In determining whether to order the parties to
participate in the premarital counseling, the court shall consider,
among other factors, the ability of the parties to pay for the
counseling. The court may impose a reasonable fee to cover the cost
of any premarital counseling provided by the county or the court. The
fees shall be used exclusively to cover the cost of the counseling
services authorized by this section.
Consent to and solemnization of marriage may be proved under
the same general rules of evidence as facts are proved in other
Except as provided in Section 307, a marriage shall be
licensed, solemnized, and authenticated, and the authenticated
marriage license shall be returned to the county recorder of the
county where the marriage license was issued, as provided in this
part. Noncompliance with this part by a nonparty to the marriage does
not invalidate the marriage.
(a) Parties to a marriage shall not be required to have the
same name. Neither party shall be required to change his or her name.
A person's name shall not change upon marriage unless that person
elects to change his or her name pursuant to subdivision (b).
(b) (1) One party or both parties to a marriage may elect to
change the middle or last names, or both, by which that party wishes
to be known after solemnization of the marriage by entering the new
name in the spaces provided on the marriage license application
without intent to defraud.
(2) A person may adopt any of the following last names pursuant to
(A) The current last name of the other spouse.
(B) The last name of either spouse given at birth.
(C) A name combining into a single last name all or a segment of
the current last name or the last name of either spouse given at
(D) A hyphenated combination of last names.
(3) A person may adopt any of the following middle names pursuant
to paragraph (1):
(A) The current last name of either spouse.
(B) The last name of either spouse given at birth.
(C) A hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the
current last name of the person or spouse.
(D) A hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the
last name given at birth of the person or spouse.
(4) (A) An election by a person to change his or her name pursuant
to paragraph (1) shall serve as a record of the name change. A
certified copy of a marriage certificate containing the new name, or
retaining the former name, shall constitute proof that the use of the
new name or retention of the former name is lawful.
(B) A certified copy of a marriage certificate shall be accepted
as identification establishing a true, full name for purposes of
Section 12800.7 of the Vehicle Code.
(C) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the
Department of Motor Vehicles from accepting as identification other
documents establishing a true, full name for purposes of Section
12800.7 of the Vehicle Code. Those documents may include, without
limitation, a certified copy of a marriage certificate recording a
marriage outside of this state.
(D) This section shall be applied in a manner consistent with the
requirements of Sections 1653.5 and 12801 of the Vehicle Code.
(5) The adoption of a new name, or the choice not to adopt a new
name, by means of a marriage license application pursuant to
paragraph (1) shall only be made at the time the marriage license is
issued. After a marriage certificate is registered by the local
registrar, the certificate may not be amended to add a new name or
change the name adopted pursuant to paragraph (1). An amendment may
be issued to correct a clerical error in the new name fields on the
marriage license. In this instance, the amendment must be signed by
one of the parties to the marriage and the county clerk or his or her
deputy, and the reason for the amendment must be stated as
correcting a clerical error. A clerical error as used in this part is
an error made by the county clerk, his or her deputy, or a notary
authorized to issue confidential marriage licenses, whereby the
information shown in the new name field does not match the
information shown on the marriage license application. This
requirement shall not abrogate the right of either party to adopt a
different name through usage at a future date, or to petition the
superior court for a change of name pursuant to Title 8 (commencing
with Section 1275) of Part 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to abrogate the
common law right of any person to change his or her name, or the
right of any person to petition the superior court for a change of
name pursuant to Title 8 (commencing with Section 1275) of Part 3 of
the Code of Civil Procedure.
(d) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2009.
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:
(a) The parties to the marriage sign and endorse on the form
prescribed by the State Department of Public Health, showing all of
(1) The fact, time, and place of entering into the marriage.
(2) The printed names, signatures, and mailing addresses of two
witnesses to the ceremony.
(3) 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
(b) The License and Certificate of Non-Clergy Marriage, endorsed
pursuant to subdivision (a), is returned to the county recorder of
the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the
A marriage contracted outside this state that would be valid
by laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted is
valid in this state.
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 pursuant to Section 103450 of the Health and
Safety Code, to have the validity of the marriage determined and
Marriage is dissolved only by one of the following:
(a) The death of one of the parties.
(b) A judgment of dissolution of marriage.
(c) A judgment of nullity of marriage.