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“California Family Law” can be a confusing term encompassing the laws governing marriage and divorce, child custody and support, adoption, guardianship, domestic violence, and more. But don’t fret; this guide gives you a basic overview of what you need to know about California Family Law.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the basics of requirements for marriage in California, divorce in California, child custody and support in California, and other areas of California Family Law. We’ll walk you through everything from age restrictions to obtaining a marriage license and grounds for filing, types of child custody arrangements, factors used to determine child support amounts, and adoption requirements. So let’s get started.

The Basics: Requirements for Marriage in California

One of the most important aspects of California Family Law is the regulation of marriage.

Age restrictions

In California, you must be at least 18 years of age to be legally married. If either person is under the age of 18, parental consent and a court order may be required. And if one of the individuals is between 16-18 years old, they must have a notarized affidavit from both parents or their legal guardian and parental consent.

Proof of eligibility

To legally marry in California, both parties must have a valid proof of their identity and age. Generally, a driver’s license or state ID card is sufficient to establish eligibility, although other forms of identification may be accepted depending on the county.

Obtaining a marriage license

After both parties have met the eligibility requirements, they must purchase a marriage license from their county’s office of the clerk or recorder. The cost for a marriage license varies by county but is typical $35-$100. This license is valid for 90 days from the date of issue, after which it will expire and must be renewed.

Divorce in California

While marriage is a joyous occasion, the unfortunate reality is that divorce can sometimes be necessary. In California, certain requirements and procedures are associated with obtaining a legal divorce.

Grounds for filing

Before filing for a divorce in California, you must establish grounds for doing so. These grounds can include irreconcilable differences, mental cruelty, or abandonment for a period of at least one year. You must also note the length of your marriage and any other relevant information.

Residency requirements

To be eligible to file for divorce in California, you must have lived in the state for at least six months and resided in the county where you are filing for at least three months before filing. If either party does not meet these residency requirements, you must wait until you have done so before filing.

Process of finalizing the divorce

After filing for divorce in California, the process can take anywhere from six weeks to a year, depending on the complexity of your case. To obtain a final decree, both parties must agree on issues such as the division of assets and debts, spousal support, and child custody. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will decide on behalf of both parties.

Child Custody and Support in California

In addition to marriage and divorce laws, California Family Law also regulates child custody and support issues.

Establishing parental rights and responsibilities

In California, both parents are responsible for providing financial support and care for their children. To establish legal rights and responsibilities for each parent, a court must issue an official judgment or order recognizing the relationship between that parent and the child. This judgment or order will also specify which parent is the child’s legal guardian and outline any visitation or custody arrangements.

Types of child custody arrangements

There are two main types of child custody arrangements in California: 

Physical and legal. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with, while legal custody refers to which parent has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the child. These two types of custody can be awarded to one or both parents in various combinations.

Factors used to determine child support amounts

The court will use information such as each parent’s income and expenses, the needs of the child, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child to determine an appropriate amount of child support. Sometimes, the court may also consider additional factors such as medical or educational expenses.

Other Areas of California Family Law

Finally, California Family Law covers other areas, such as adoption and paternity.

Adoption requirements

To adopt in California, prospective parents must meet certain requirements. These include completing an extensive home study process, attending a parenting education class, providing financial information to the court, and meeting with the child before finalizing the adoption. You must also obtain a court order approving the adoption before it can be finalized.

Paternity establishment and rights

If a child is born out of wedlock, paternity must be established for the father to gain legal rights over the child. This process typically involves parents submitting DNA samples for testing and attending court hearings to complete the process. Once paternity has been established, the father is responsible for providing financial support to the child and may also be entitled to visitation rights.

Enforcement of court orders

In California, all court orders are enforceable by law. If either parent violates a court order, they can face serious consequences such as fines or jail time. If a parent cannot comply with their court-ordered obligations, they must obtain permission from the court before making any changes.


Overall, California family law is a complex and complicated set of laws. It’s important to understand the legal process before entering into any agreement or court action. When it comes to family law matters — anything from adoption to child support payments — having a basic understanding of your rights is key to ensuring your interests are protected.

If you find yourself in need of legal advice, be sure to contact an experienced California family law attorney who will provide the guidance you need. With their help, you can ensure your rights and interests are respected throughout the process.

Good luck

Farbood Majd Esq.

Family Law & Divorce Attorney in Beverly Hills

Providing service in English and Farsi

Address: 8383 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 646, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Phone: 310.956.4600 | Fax: 310.878.8989

Email: [email protected]