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# #507 Confidential marriages

mp3 #507 Confidential Marriages (mp3 file)


If you are age 18 or older, and have been living together as husband and wife with a person of the opposite sex who is 18 or older, and if the two of you now decide to get married, you may want to keep the date of your marriage confidential, and not be printed in the newspaper, or be available to the public.

California law permits you to have what is called a "confidential marriage", which means that the written record of your marriage is not open to public inspection". The county clerk's or recorder's office keeps a written record of your confidential marriage, and only a superior court will require the county clerk to give a copy of your confidential marriage certificate to anyone except to you or your spouse. You or your spouse may obtain a certified copy of your confidential marriage certificate at any time, from the county clerk's or county recorder's office in the county which issued your certificate. The fee is about twelve dollars for a certified copy of your certificate.

Anyone may ask the state registrar of vital statistics office whether or not you have been married under California’s confidential marriage law, and the state registrar may reveal that you have been married under this law, but neither the state registrar nor the county clerk or recorder will disclose the date of your marriage. If you want to have a confidential marriage, you must first obtain a written authorization, usually from the county clerk's or recorder's office, or from a clerk of the court, a judge in private chambers, or from certain notary publics who have obtained special permission from the county clerk's office to issue written authorizations for confidential marriages. To obtain this written authorization, you must pay a fee which typically ranges from thirty five dollars in some counties, up to sixty two dollars in other counties. Both you and the person you are going to marry must appear in person and sign a statement that you are an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, that you are both age 18 or older, and that you have been living together as husband and wife.

The law does not require you to have been living together for any specified length of time. You do not have to obtain health certificates, before having a confidential marriage in California. Usually, only the county clerk's or recorder's office will have the authorization certificates on hand, because any other person who may issue them must first pay from thirty five dollars up to sixty two dollars to the county clerk or recorder for each blank authorization certificate.

The marriage license bureau at the county clerk's or recorder's office will probably require you to present certain documents for verification purposes. You may need. To prove who you are, with a picture of yourself on an identification card. A driver's license from any state, with your picture on it, or a military id card, may be used for this purpose. If you are relatively young, you may need to prove your age, with a certified copy of your birth certificate, your passport, your school record, or your immigration or naturalization certificate. If either of you has been married before, and your former marriage ended in divorce or dissolution, you may be required to present a certified copy of your final decree of divorce, to prove that you are now legally free to marry again.

After you have your written authorization for a confidential marriage, you may take it to anyone who lawfully performs marriage ceremonies in California, such as a minister, priest, rabbi, judge, or a commissioner of civil marriages in the county clerk's office. Your marriage ceremony must take place in the same county where you obtain your written authorization, and your ceremony must take place within 90 days of the date that your written authorization is issued.

The person who performs your marriage ceremony will give you a copy of the combined authorization and confidential marriage certificate, for you to keep. He or she will also send the original certificate to the county clerk's or recorder's office, in the county where you obtained your authorization for a confidential marriage. The person performing your ceremony will also have you fill out an application for a certified copy of your certificate, which he or she will send to the county clerk's or recorder's office.

What if you, or the person you are living with as a husband or wife, is physically unable to appear in person, to obtain the written authorization to be married confidentially? You might be unable to go in person because of being in poor health, or in the hospital, .or in jail or prison. If that is your situation, you may ask the person who is going to perform your wedding ceremony, to first go to the county clerk's office for you, to obtain the authorization certificate. He or she will have to give the county clerk an affidavit, signed by you, the person you are marrying, and the person performing the ceremony. The affidavit will explain why you cannot appear in person to obtain the authorization certificate. He or she will also have to pay the fee from thirty five dollars up to sixty two dollars to the county clerk's office, to obtain your authorization certificate.

California law now makes it a misdemeanor for a person to perform a confidential marriage ceremony, without first being presented with the required written authorization form, properly filled out. It is also now a misdemeanor for the person performing the ceremony to fail to return the marriage certificate, within 30 days after the ceremony, to the county clerk's office.

There are three ways for you to obtain a certified copy of your confidential marriage certificate, after your marriage ceremony.

The first way, is to mail in the signed application form which is given to you by the person who performs your marriage ceremony.

The second way, is to appear in person, with proper identification, at the county clerk's office where your confidential marriage certificate was originally filed.

The third way, is to appear in person before any notary public, or at the county clerk's or recorder's office in the county where you now are living. You provide proper identification, and you will receive a certificate attesting to your identity, which may be in the form of a letter from the notary public or the county clerk's or recorder's office. You then mail this certificate attesting to your identity, to the county clerk's or recorder's office in the county where your confidential marriage certificate was originally filed.

For the address of the county clerk's or recorder's office in your county, look in the white pages of your telephone directory, first under the name of your county, then under county clerk or recorder and then under marriage licenses. The county clerk's or recorder's office is usually open during normal business hours, Monday through Fridays, but you should telephone ahead of time for the exact hours.

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