Void and Voidable Marriages in California2023-12-13T10:44:48+00:00

When you are heading down the aisle, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of love. But in California, there are specific administrative tasks you need to complete to ensure that your marriage is recognized as legal by California and by other states in the country.

Getting Married

To ensure your marriage is legal, it is a good idea to understand the necessary administrative steps for a lawful union. The state of California will recognize your marriage as legitimate if you get a marriage license from the county where the marriage will take place and are married by a qualified official. In Orange County, there are no citizenship or residency requirements, and no blood test is necessary. Once you are married, your officiant must sign the marriage license and send it to the county. The county will then issue you a marriage certificate and you can ride off into the sunset to begin your lives as a married couple.

What is a Void Marriage?

A void marriage is one that isn’t recognized by the court for some reason. In California, these reasons include:

Closely related spouses:
If two spouses are closely related, the marriage will not be valid. California law strictly prohibits marriage between parents and children, ancestors and descendants of any degree, whole or half siblings, and uncles and aunts and their nieces and nephews. These relationships are considered incestuous and no marriage between them will be valid.

Bigamy is also illegal in California. If you already have an existing, legal marriage that has not been dissolved, any subsequent marriage will be void.

Green card marriages:
A fake or sham marriage to obtain U.S. residency is not valid.

What is a Voidable Marriage?

A voidable marriage is one that can be voided by either party. This generally applies if:

  • One spouse was under the age of 18, the parents didn’t consent, and there was no court order
  • If one party to the marriage didn’t have the legal capacity to consent, the marriage is voidable. However, if the incapacitated party regains capacity and freely lives with the other party, the marriage is no longer voidable.
  • Marriage under fraud, duress, or undue influence. However, if the party who was tricked or coerced then freely lives with the other party, the marriage is not voidable.

If you have concerns about a void or voidable marriage, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.

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