Marriage Laws

Marriage Law refers to the requirements set out by laws in different countries – these determine the validity of a marriage.  These laws vary from country to country.   A marriage confers rights and obligations on the two parties involved in the relationship defined as a marriage.

In most countries, a marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, even if there are no witnesses.

Types of Marriages:

Common Law – which is recognised in quite a few States in the US and Canadian provinces.

Same Sex – this union is becoming more common and is not recognised by many states or countries.


This particular institution is regulated by law to prevent abuse – age, gender and social status.  Many of the restrictions are put in place by society.

  • Age:  The minimum age for boys and girls are fixed by law to make sure that both parties are able to make informed decisions.
  • Gender:  This is also governed by law – but most of all by society and peer pressure.  Some countries extend the same rights and responsibilities afforded to a regular couple to same sex partners.
  • Social/Societal restrictions:  This refers to marriage among relatives or first cousins or even siblings.  Some countries permit this practice, sanctioned by religion and others expressly forbid it.

Most countries recognise civil ceremonies as well as religious ones even though they are quite distinct from one another.  In the US, weddings have to be officiated by a Justice of the Peace to be recognised.  Religious figures like ministers or rabbis can also act as agents of the State and then issue a certificate. 

In other instances, a marriage can be created by the law such as common law marriage.  Marriages that have been formalised in one country will be recognised in others, especially if the couple relocates overseas.  Marriage laws impact a wide range of issues as property, care of children etc.  These laws are enacted to protect the rights of both parties as well as the children.

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