California Marriage: Traditional and Common Law Marriages and Domestic Partners

California marriage and domestic partnership requirements, plus common-law marriage information.

What are the requirements for getting legally married in California?

California does not require a blood test before a marriage license will be issued. You can marry immediately after your marriage license is issued, and your license is good for 90 days after it's issued. After that time, you'll have to get a new one before you can marry.

In California, as in most states, you must be of the age of consent, not be too closely related to your intended spouse, not be married to anyone else, and have sufficient "mental capacity," meaning you understand what you are doing when you marry.

Does California have common-law marriage?

No. In California, you must obtain a marriage license and enter into a legal marriage in order to be considered married. Living together and taking the same name don't create a common-law marriage.

Does California have same-sex marriage?

Yes. As a result of the June 2015 landmark court decision, Obergefell vs. Hodges, same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states and D.C..

Does California still offer domestic partnerships?

Yes, domestic partnership is still available. A couple who registers as domestic partners in California has all the same rights and responsibilities as married people for the purposes of state law. However, because the federal government does not recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions, registered partners do not qualify for federal benefits, including marriage tax benefits or immigration benefits for spouses.

Learn about the proper legal steps to define and protect your relationship in the eyes of the law with Living Together: A Legal Guide, by Ralph Warner, Toni Ihara, and Attorney Frederick Hertz (Nolo), or Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples, by Denis Clifford, Frederick Hertz, and Emily Doskow (Nolo).

Learn about the current status of same-sex relationships in the U.S. and abroad, and get help in deciding whether a legal commitment is right for you, with Making it Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership, and Civil Unions, by Frederick Hertz and Emily Doskow (Nolo).

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