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General Guidance in Reading the California Family Code

Includes persons who are lawfully married to each other and persons who were previously lawfully married to each other

By Chris Micheli, June 17, 2022 6:40 am

California’s statutes are contained in 29 separate codes. The ninth alphabetically is the Family Code. All 29 Codes have general provisions applicable to reading and interpreting that Code’s sections. The following are selected general provisions of the Family Code:

Section 1 – This Code is known as the Family Code.

Section 2 – A provision of this Code, if it is substantially the same as a previously existing provision relating to the same subject matter, is to be considered as a restatement and continuation and not as a new enactment, and a reference in a statute to the provision of this Code must be deemed to include a reference to the previously existing provision unless a contrary intent appears.

Section 3 – A provision of this Code, if it is the same in substance as a provision of a uniform act, it to be construed to effectuate the general purpose to make uniform the law in those states which enact that provision.

Section 5 – Division, part, chapter, article, and section headings do not in any manner affect the scope, meaning, or intent of this Code.

Section 6 – Unless the provision or context otherwise requires, the general provisions and rules of construction in this part govern the construction of this Code.

Section 7 – Whenever a reference is made to a portion of this Code or to another law, the reference applies to all amendments and additions regardless of when made.

Section 9 – The present tense includes the past and future tenses, and the future tense includes the present tense.

Section 10 – The singular number includes the plural, and the plural, the singular.

Section 11 – A reference to “husband” and “wife,” “spouses,” or “married persons,” or a comparable term, includes persons who are lawfully married to each other and persons who were previously lawfully married to each other, as is appropriate under the circumstances of the particular case.

Section 12 – The term “shall” is mandatory and “may” is permissive. The terms “shall not” and “may not” are prohibitory.

Section 13 – If a provision or clause of this Code or its application to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this Code which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this code are severable.

Section 50 – Unless the provision or context otherwise requires, the definitions and rules of construction in this part govern the construction of this Code.

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