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2021 California Rules of Court

Rule 5.448. Minor's request to marry or establish a domestic partnership

(a) Application

(1)  This rule implements Family Code sections 297.1, 303, and 304, allowing a person under 18 years of age (a minor) to seek a court order for permission to marry or establish a domestic partnership.

(2)  The responsibilities of Family Court Services under (c) apply equally to courts that adopt a confidential child custody mediation program, recommending child custody counseling, or a tiered/hybrid program.

(3)  For the purpose of this rule, the terms "parent" and "parent with legal authority" are used interchangeably.

(b) Required initial filings

(1)  The minor and the minor's proposed spouse or domestic partner must complete and file with the court clerk a Request of Minor to Marry or Establish a Domestic Partnership (form FL-910).

(2)  Unless the minor has no parent or legal guardian capable of consenting, each minor must file, in addition to form FL-910, the written consent from a parent with legal authority to provide consent or a legal guardian. Consent for Minor to Marry or Establish a Domestic Partnership (form FL-912) may be used for this purpose.

(c) Responsibilities of Family Court Services

Unless the minor is 17 years of age and has achieved a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate, Family Court Services must:

(1)  Interview the parties intending to marry or establish a domestic partnership.

(A)  The parties must initially be interviewed separately; and

(B)  The parties may subsequently be interviewed together.

(2)  Interview at least one of the parents or the legal guardian of each party who is a minor, if the minor has a parent or legal guardian. If more than one parent or legal guardian is interviewed, the parents or guardians must be interviewed separately.

(3)  Inform the parties that Family Court Services must:

(A)  Prepare a written report, including recommendations for granting or denying the parties permission to marry or establish a domestic partnership;

(B)  Provide the parties and the court with a copy of the report; and

(C)  Submit a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect to the county child protective services agency if Family Court Services knows or reasonably suspects that either party is a victim of child abuse or neglect.

(4)  Prepare a written report, which must:

(A)  Include an assessment of any potential force, threat, persuasion, fraud, coercion, or duress by either of the parties or their family members relating to the intended marriage or domestic partnership;

(B)  Include recommendations for granting or denying the parties permission to marry or establish a domestic partnership; and

(C)  Be submitted to the parties and the court.

(5)  Protect party confidentiality in:

(A)  Storage and disposal of records and any personal information gathered during the interviews; and

(B)  Management of written reports containing recommendations for either granting or denying permission for a minor to marry or establish a domestic partnership.

(d) Responsibilities of judicial officer

In determining whether to issue a court order granting permission for the minor to marry or establish a domestic partnership:

(1)  The judicial officer must:

(A)  If Family Court Services is required to interview the parties, do the following before making a final determination:

(i)  Separately and privately interview each of the parties; and

(ii)  Consider whether there is any evidence of coercion or undue influence on the minor.

(B)  Complete Order and Notices to Minor on Request to Marry or Establish a Domestic Partnership (form FL-915).

(2)  The judicial officer may order that the parties:

(A)  Appear at a hearing to consider whether it is in the best interest of the minor to marry or establish a domestic partnership.

(B)  Participate in counseling concerning the social, economic, and personal responsibilities incident to the marriage or domestic partnership before the marriage or domestic partnership is established. The judicial officer:

(i)  Must not require the parties to confer with counselors provided by religious organizations of any denomination;

(ii)  Must consider, among other factors, the ability of the parties to pay for the counseling in determining whether to order the parties to participate in counseling;

(iii)  May impose a reasonable fee to cover the cost of any counseling provided by the county or the court; and

(iv)  May require the parties to file a certificate of completion of counseling before granting permission to marry or establish a domestic partnership.

(e) Waiting period

After obtaining a court order granting a minor permission to marry or establish a domestic partnership, the parties must wait 30 days from the date the court made the order before filing a marriage license or filing a declaration of domestic partnership. This waiting period is not required if the minor is:

(1)  17 years of age and has a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate; or

(2)  16 or 17 years of age and is pregnant or whose prospective spouse or domestic partner is pregnant.

Rule 5.448 adopted effective January 1, 2020.

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