A question that often arises in today’s global world is whether a foreign marriage will be recognized in the State of California. As with most legal questions the answer depends upon the facts and circumstances as set forth below.
Marriage in a foreign country
If you were married in a foreign country the validity of your marriage will depend on what state you currently live in and whether the laws of the country in which you resided at the time you were married were followed. (Reference Material)
Some of the requirements you might encounter are:
- Parties must be resident in that country for a specified period of time before a marriage may be performed there.
- Blood tests.
- Minimum age for the parties who are being married.
- Parental consent.
- Documents certifying the end of any previous relationship (such as death or divorce certificates), translated into the local language, and authenticated.
- Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry: Some countries require an affidavit by the parties as proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. No such government-issued document exists in the United States. You may execute such an affidavit at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. embassy or consulate cannot attest to your marital status. However, most countries will accept a statement from you regarding your ability to marry if your signature on the affidavit has been notarized by a U.S. consular officer. (Reference Material)
The State of California will recognize a foreign marriage only if it is valid in the foreign country, “A marriage contracted outside this state that would be valid by laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted is valid in California.” ( Cal Fam Code § 308)
Marriage to a Foreigner
If you marry a foreigner your marriage will only be valid if you comply with the laws of the State of California. The requirements in the State of California for a valid marriage are as follows:
(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. (Family Code § 330)
However, any failure to comply with these requirements by a non-party will not invalidate the marriage,
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. (Cal Fam Code § 306)
If you have questions about any foreign marriage or marriage to a foreigner, you should contact the Law Office of Sam Walker for a free 15-minute telephonic consultation.