California Justice of the Peace Marriage Laws

by Mandi Titus ; Updated September 28, 2017

A justice of the peace is judge who often has limited judicial duties, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state of California's Family Code allows current and retired judges, including justices of the peace, to perform marriage ceremonies in the state, as long as they comply with all state rules and regulations regarding the marriage.

Wedding Types

Before officiating at a marriage ceremony in California, a justice of the peace must ensure that he or she knows what type of license has been issued and the requirements for each type of marriage license. California's public marriage license allows couples to hold the ceremony anywhere in the state and must be signed by one or two witnesses. After the ceremony, the justice of the peace must return the license to the county where it was purchased, notes the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website. The state's confidential marriage license requires that the marriage take place in the county in which the license was issued and does not require a witness to sign the license or be present at the ceremony. After the ceremony, the justice of the peace must return the license to the county recorder, where it is filed as a confidential record.

Officiant Duties

A justice of the peace must review a couple's marriage license before the ceremony solemnizing the wedding, notes the CDPH. In addition all justices of the peace who perform marriages in California must be aware of all of the state's laws and regulations regarding marriage within the state. The California Family Code provides officiants all relevant information in Sections 420 through 425 and are provided online through the California Legislative Information website. Within 10 days of the ceremony, the justice of the peace must return the marriage license to the county recorder in the county that it was issued.

Other Considerations

When filling out the marriage license, justices of the peace must ensure that all information is legible and correct. Information in the license must not be crossed out or whited out, as that requires the issuance of a new license. Each county in California has its own requirements for marriage licenses, and justices of the peace should be sure that they are aware of all county requirements before completing a marriage ceremony in the county. According the the CDPH, county clerks issue licenses and are available to answer any questions about marriage licenses.

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About the Author

Based in Florida, Mandi Titus has been writing since 2002. Her articles have been published on sites such as Goodkin, Go Green Street and Living the Healthy Way. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Stetson University.