Chapter 1. General Provisions of California Family Law Code >> Division 3. >> Part 4. >> Chapter 1.
When two unmarried people, not minors, have been living
together as spouses, 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.
For purposes of this part, the document issued by the county
clerk is a marriage license until it is registered with the county
clerk, at which time the license becomes a marriage certificate.
Except as provided in Section 502, a confidential marriage
license shall be issued by the county clerk upon the personal
appearance together 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.
If for sufficient reason, as described in subdivision (d),
either or both of the parties to be married are physically unable to
appear in person before the county clerk, a confidential marriage
license may be issued by the county clerk to the person solemnizing
the marriage if the following requirements are met:
(a) The person solemnizing the marriage physically presents an
affidavit to the county clerk explaining the reason for the inability
(b) The affidavit is signed under penalty of perjury by the person
solemnizing the marriage and by both parties.
(c) The signature of any party to be married who is unable to
appear in person before the county clerk is authenticated by a notary
public or a court prior to the county clerk issuing the confidential
(d) Sufficient reason includes proof of hospitalization,
incarceration, or any other reason proved to the satisfaction of the
The county clerk shall issue a confidential marriage license
upon the request of a notary public approved by the county clerk to
issue confidential marriage licenses pursuant to Chapter 2
(commencing with Section 530) and upon payment by the notary public
of the fees specified in Sections 26840.1 and 26840.8 of the
Government Code. The parties shall reimburse a notary public who
issues a confidential marriage license for the amount of the fees.
A confidential marriage license is valid only for a period of
90 days after its issuance by the county clerk.
(a) The form of the confidential marriage license shall be
prescribed by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
(b) The form shall be designed to require that the parties to be
married declare or affirm that they meet all of the requirements of
(c) The form shall include an affidavit, which the bride and groom
shall sign, affirming that they have received the brochure provided
for in Section 358.
(a) The confidential marriage license shall be presented to
the person solemnizing the marriage.
(b) Upon performance of the ceremony, the solemnization section on
the confidential marriage license shall be completed by the person
solemnizing the marriage.
(c) The confidential marriage license 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
Upon issuance of a confidential marriage license, parties
shall be provided with an application to obtain a certified copy of
the confidential marriage certificate from the county clerk.
(a) 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 by submitting an
application that satisfies the requirements of Chapter 14 (commencing
with Section 103525) of Part 1 of Division 102 of the Health and
(b) Copies of a confidential marriage certificate may be issued to
the parties to the marriage upon payment of the fee equivalent to
that charged for copies of a marriage certificate.
(a) If a confidential marriage license is lost, damaged, or
destroyed after the performance of the marriage, but before it is
returned to the county clerk, or deemed unacceptable for registration
by the county clerk, the person solemnizing the marriage, in order
to comply with Section 506, shall obtain a duplicate marriage license
by filing an affidavit setting forth the facts with the county clerk
of the county in which the license was issued.
(b) The duplicate license may not be issued later than one year
after issuance of the original license and shall be returned by the
person solemnizing the marriage to the county clerk within one year
of the issuance date shown on the original marriage license.
(c) The county clerk may charge a fee to cover the actual costs of
issuing a duplicate marriage license.
(d) If a marriage license is lost, damaged, or destroyed before a
marriage ceremony takes place, the applicants shall purchase a new
marriage license and the old license shall be voided.
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), the county clerk
shall maintain confidential marriage certificates filed pursuant to
Section 506 as permanent records which shall not be open to public
inspection except upon order of the court issued upon a showing of
good cause. The confidential marriage license is a confidential
record and not open to public inspection without an order from the
(b) The county clerk shall keep all original certificates of
confidential marriages for one year from the date of filing. After
one year, the clerk may reproduce the certificates pursuant to
Section 26205 of the Government Code, and dispose of the original
certificates. The county clerk shall promptly seal and store at least
one original negative of each microphotographic film made in a
manner and place as reasonable to ensure its preservation
indefinitely against loss, theft, defacement, or destruction. The
microphotograph shall be made in a manner that complies with the
minimum standards or guidelines, or both, recommended by the American
National Standards Institute or the Association for Information and
Image Management. Every reproduction shall be deemed and considered
an original. A certified copy of any reproduction shall be deemed and
considered a certified copy of the original.
(c) The county clerk may conduct a search for a confidential
marriage certificate for the purpose of confirming the existence of a
marriage, but the date of the marriage and any other information
contained in the certificate shall not be disclosed except upon order
of the court.
(d) The county clerk shall, not less than quarterly, transmit
copies of all original confidential marriage certificates retained,
or originals of reproduced confidential marriage certificates filed
after January 1, 1982, to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
The registrar may destroy the copies so transmitted after they have
been indexed. The registrar may respond to an inquiry as to the
existence of a marriage performed pursuant to this chapter, but shall
not disclose the date of the marriage.