To acquire a marriage record in California is somewhat difficult. Well, it’s not so much difficult as that it can be a fairly lengthy process; but, with a state that holds nearly 37 million people (36,961, 664 to be exact, according to the July 2009 census), more than 8.2% of the total population of the country, some things are going to take time.
If one were to begin their journey to receive a marriage record, one could begin their search with the California State government. Their website is very helpful in explaining this process.
Fee’s and various types of Marriage Records
A $14 fee is required for the marriage record through the state, regardless of the type of record you are searching for. There are two kinds of marriage records, a public and a confidential, and a public certified record is further broken down into two categories: authorized and informational. California certified public marriage records are available from the State Registrar or County Recorder in the county where the marriage took place. California certified confidential marriage records are “only available from the County Clerk in the county” where the license was issued and only those whose names are on the license may obtain a copy of it. The difference between a public and confidential marriage is that a confidential marriage can only take place between individuals who have already been living together as spouses. These confidential marriage records are not available to the public and as said already, can only be obtained by the two persons who are on the record or by a court order. What does that mean? Marriages that are the public type, which you probably go to every summer, are likely going to be available. But, the friend of yours that has been living with their partner since you started undergraduate school, who had a private ceremony and still rarely wears their rings is going to require one of two names to get, and neither one will be your name.
Types of “certified” marriage records
The two types of certified marriage records: authorized or informational. For both, it is necessary to complete an application form and in the case of a certified marriage record, complete a notarized statement. These forms can both be found on the state website. For the application form, you will have to state information about the registrant as well as about yourself and your relationship to the said person. The notarized sworn statement is you “swearing” that you are allowed to receive this information and it also states your relation to the person, a relationship that has to be one of the following.
You need to be…
You are: the “registrant,” the parents of the registrant, children, grandparents, grandchildren, spouse or a domestic partner, brother or sister. Other people who can obtain an authorized marriage record are those acting on a court order, a licensed adoption agency, government officials and police officers carrying out “official business,” an attorney representing the registrant or his/her estate or anyone acting (officially) on behalf of the registrant or his/her estate.
Requesting a marriage record under Power of Attorney, requires a copy of the power of attorney form. If you are acting on behalf of a funeral agency, then you may also be able to obtain a marriage record of the registrant. You must submit documentation to prove any status that you claim from the above.
This sounds like a lot of requirements and with all that can be at risk with identity theft, it is clear to see why; however, there is another means to getting alike information. An informational marriage record is also available. This is a certified, “un”-authorized record that contains the same information as the authorized one. But, on it will be printed “INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY.” An informational copy does not need a sworn statement.
Wasn’t there talk of this being lengthy?
I said this was someone difficult… this process often becomes long and drawn out as documents can only be submitted by mail. It is also important to note that it will probably be quicker to apply for the marriage record directly from the County recorder’s office in the county where the marriage took place. Otherwise, it could take up to six months, or longer. For this process, should you apply directly to the Office of Vital Records, the State Registrar. On this note, one important thing to notice is that the State Registrar cannot provide public marriage records from the years of: 1905-1948; 1987-1997; 2000-present. While they do have these records, they do not provide certified copies of marriage records from these years because the process of finding them is very time-consuming, remember… 37 million people. But, as already mentioned, public marriage records are available from the County Recorders offices. If you don’t know the county where the marriage took place, it is possible to contact the State Registrar for help with this information.
Being California, many people question same sex marriage and the State’s position. The answer is that same sex marriage was allowed but then revoked. It continues to be a very hot issue with both sides looking forward to the 2012 voting ballot.
There are many places out there that purport to be able to retrieve records for you, such as marriage records. Sites like ancestry.com can get you what you’re looking for, for a fee. But, the safest way is to go through the California County Recorders to get a document that is official or correct, but not official. Remember to plan ahead, pay the manageable fee, and in some cases, have the ability to prove your relationship and you will be on your way to receiving your California marriage record.
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