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Marriage by Proxy in California

Information and Text of Law

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Married couple holding hands
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Information:

SB 7 was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga and Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 10, 2004.

Because it was passed as an urgency measure, the law took effect immediately.

The law allows marriage-by-proxy in California for members of the armed forces who are stationed far away in wars or conflicts. It allows them to give their power of attorney for someone to stand in for them during their wedding ceremony.

Documents have to be signed and acknowledged by a notary or by two military officers.

 

Text of Law:

SECTION 1. Section 350 of the Family Code is amended to read:
  • 350. (a) Before entering a marriage, or declaring a marriage pursuant to Section 425, the parties shall first obtain a marriage license from a county clerk.

    (b) If a marriage is to be entered into pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 420, the attorney-in-fact shall appear before the county clerk on behalf of the party who is overseas, as prescribed in subdivision (a).

    SEC. 2. Section 354 of the Family Code is amended to read:

    354. (a) 354. (a) Each applicant for a marriage license shall be required to present authentic photo identification acceptable to the county clerk as to name and date of birth. A credible witness affidavit or affidavits may be used in lieu of authentic photo identification.

    (b) For the purpose of ascertaining the facts mentioned or required in this part, if the clerk deems it necessary, the clerk may examine the applicants for a marriage license on oath at the time of the application. The clerk shall reduce the examination to writing and the applicants shall sign it.

    (c) If necessary, the clerk may request additional documentary proof as to the accuracy of the facts stated.

    (d) Applicants for a marriage license shall not be required to state, for any purpose, their race or color.

    (e) If a marriage is to be entered into pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 420, the attorney-in-fact shall comply with the requirements of this section on behalf of the applicant who is overseas, if necessary.

    SEC. 3. Section 355 of the Family Code is amended to read:

    355. (a) The forms for the application for a marriage license and the marriage license shall be prescribed by the State Department of Health Services, and shall be adapted to set forth the facts required in this part.

    (b) The form for the application for a marriage license shall include an affidavit on the back, which the applicants shall sign, affirming that they have received the brochure provided for in Section 358. If the marriage is to be entered into pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 420, the attorney-in-fact shall sign the affidavit on behalf of the applicant who is overseas.

    (c) The affidavit required by subdivision (b) shall state:

    AFFIDAVIT
    I acknowledge that I have received the brochure titled___________
    Signature of Bride
    Date
    Signature of Groom
    Date

     
    • SEC. 4. Section 420 of the Family Code is amended to read:
     
    • 420. (a) No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife.

      (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is stationed overseas and serving in a conflict or a war and is unable to appear for the licensure and solemnization of the marriage may enter into that marriage by the appearance of an attorney-in-fact, commissioned and empowered in writing for that purpose through a power of attorney. The attorney-in-fact must personally appear at the county clerk's office with the party who is not stationed overseas, and present the original power of attorney duly signed by the party stationed overseas and acknowledged by a notary or witnessed by two officers of the United States Armed Forces. Copies in any form, including by facsimile, are not acceptable. The power of attorney shall state the full given names at birth, or by court order, of the parties to be married, and that the power of attorney is solely for the purpose of authorizing the attorney in fact to obtain a marriage license on the person's behalf and participate in the solemnization of the marriage. The original power of attorney shall be a part of the marriage certificate upon registration.

      (c) No contract of marriage, if otherwise duly made, shall be invalidated for want of conformity to the requirements of any religious sect.

      SEC. 5. This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:

      In order to ensure that members of the Armed Forces of the United States have the ability to legally marry in the State of California while stationed overseas, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.

    Source:California Family Code Section 350-360 and California Family Code Section 420-426
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