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Is this marriage legal and binding?

Santa Cruz, CA |

If a couple has a wedding ceremony but does not sign the marriage certificate due to financial problems, what is the legal status of the relationship?

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Attorney answers 5


The state of CA doesn't consider you married without a license, so you shouldn't either. You're both still single.

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Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

In California, the following steps are taken for a valid marriage: (1) the County Clerk issues a marriage license, (2) an "officiant" such as a priest or a judge, performs the marriage ceremony, and returns the completed marriage license to the county recorder, and (3) the County recorder registers the marriage. Be sure to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.


Unless you have signed and provided the document to the registrar, you are not married.

NOTE: This answer is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship or privilege between you and the attorney responding. Do not use this or any answer by the responding attorney as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney practicing in the area in which your question pertains with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law frequently changes and will be different from state to state. The response provided above is general in nature, and is based solely on the facts provided in the question. Facts not included in the question may have a bearing on the response.


Common-law marriage is NOT created by living together in the State of California.

Legal marriage in CA requires that both parties must have legal capacity; no prior subsisting marriage; no statutorily prohibited blood relationship; no defects: underage, fraud, coercion, sexual incapacity and lack of consent. Defects make marriage voidable at election of interested party.

Formal Legal Requirements. Estate DePasse, 2002 - (1) Witnessed ceremony where parties publically and unequivocally declare their marriage; (2) Mandatory marriage license and registration with the state of CA.


I agree with the other practitioners who already answered. In your scenario the couple would not be considered legally married in the state of California. A common-law marriage cannot be created by a couple in California.

The above is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered legal advice. It is recommended that individuals seek counsel from a licensed attorney.

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