Then Tony is forced to go back to America for work reasons. Oksana, who doesn't want to leave her friends and family, stays behind in Russia. A year later Oksana emails Tony to tell him she has met someone else and wants a divorce. She promises that she will take care of getting them officially divorced in Russia. But in reality she does not do so. This is because he reasonably believed that his Russian marriage had been dissolved.
Proving whether two people are married—and thus whether someone is guilty of bigamy—can occasionally be complicated.
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This is often the case where the first marriage occurred somewhere other than the United States. Under Penal Code , the prosecutor can prove a previous marriage without necessarily producing the marriage certificate or other legal document. The choice between misdemeanor and felony charges for bigamy is left to the prosecutor. This means that defendants who are not U. Example : Ashish was born in a small town in India.
At the age of 16 he marries his second cousin in an arranged marriage. When he is 20 he comes to California to go to college, leaving his wife behind. He ends up staying and working at a software company as a legal immigrant. He hears from relatives that his wife has a new common-law husband in India. Not knowing about California bigamy laws, Ashish marries a co-worker in America. Eventually he is charged with bigamy. Ashish is tempted to plead guilty, since it seems as if the prosecutor is willing to sign a deal giving him only misdemeanor probation.
But then he consults a criminal and immigration lawyer and learns that this conviction will make him inadmissible. This means it could prevent him from becoming a U. As a defendant, you can turn this complication to your advantage with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney—because a California jury may not convict you of this offense unless they are certain beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
As we discussed above, actual and reasonable belief that you are no longer married to the first spouse is a valid defense to bigamy charges. According to Pasadena criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse 18 :. A lot of bigamy cases I see arise out of misunderstandings, plain and simple. There's often an inter-cultural or international angle as well. You cannot be convicted of bigamy unless the prosecutor can prove that you are still validly married to your first spouse.
If the marriage occurred outside California—and particularly if it occurred outside the United States, as in many bigamy cases—this may not be straightforward. If this is the case, you can challenge the prosecutor's evidence as insufficient to prove you committed this offense.
There are a few other California crimes that you can commit by marrying someone. These are:. Incest is always a felony in California. After you decide how you want to end your marriage or domestic partnership, you need to plan your case ahead of time.
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Think about how you are going to handle your case. Planning before you start and talking to a lawyer can save you time and money as you go through the court process.
And keep in mind that, normally, it does not matter who is the first to file the divorce or separation case. The court does not give any preference to the first person to file or a disadvantage to the person who responds to the case. If you want to end a registered domestic partnership, domestic partners must also file for dissolution divorce , legal separation, or annulment to end their relationship.
There is a limited exception where domestic partners can end their relationship in a summary process through the Secretary of State if they have been registered for less than five years and they have no children, no real property, very few assets or debts, and a written agreement on dividing their property, in addition to other restrictions.
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Click to learn more about this shorter process to see if you are eligible to end your domestic partnership that way. Federal law does not recognize domestic partnerships for most purposes, such as Medicare, immigration law, veterans' benefits, and federal tax laws. It is unlawful for our employees to answer questions of a legal nature. County Clerk staff cannot advise you how to complete the marriage license application as it relates to your entry of a new name or retention of your former name on the marriage license application.
Marriage age in the United States
Certified Copies in a foreign language must be translated into English by a Court certified translator or American Translators Association ATA certified translator and must be presented along with the translation. Confidential marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from issuance date for a ceremony anywhere in the State of California. Civil Marriage Ceremony: Fee, witnesses, hours, and other details:. Ceremony appointments are available every half hour between 9 a.
Monday thru Friday.
California Marriage Laws - Universal Life Church
You may schedule and pay for an appointment through the online reservation system, or you may schedule and pay for an appointment in our office Monday through Friday a. Expedited services for certified copies are NOT available. Please plan accordingly. You may choose to have a 2nd witness for a Public Marriage Ceremony. You are responsible for providing your own witness. Skip to main content. Age Requirement Both parties must be at least age 18 and unmarried. Attendance Both parties must be present to file the application for and be issued a marriage license.
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