Marriage laws around the world

Marriage is a ritual that changes from country to country. Traditionally, in most western countries it was custom to marry within a church. In India, arranged marriages are common while in others, marriages between two people of the same sex is now legal. There have been changes to marriage practices all over the world but how has the law affected this? Looking at laws from countries all over the world there are many laws that may surprise you.

In Saudi Arabia, the gulf state bordering Iraq, Yemen and Oman, marriage is highly regulated by law. A country highly criticised for their treatment of women, Saudi law states that women, under the age of 30 and over 50 cannot marry a foreigner while there cannot be an age gap of more than 15 years between the couple.

As with many western countries, Australia carries certain laws about those eligible to be married. Both people must be over the age of 18 and not be related by being a grandparent, parent, child, grandchild, brother or sister. It is only in the past year that Australia has granted couples of the same sex the chance to marry legally in the country. Ireland is the only other country to pass this through a nationwide referendum, in 2015.

Many people use marriage as a tool to obtain a visa or even citizenship of that country. In Australia, the highest number of applicants for this type of visa are from China, the UK and India. The minimum age for a sponsored partner can be as low as 16, while couples will go through a long process to prove that a relationship is genuine.

Four states in the US allow proxy marriages by law. This came into effect around the time of World War II, as soldiers with girlfriends back home died on the battlefield. To this day they are still legal in California, Colorado, Texas and Montana. While in 24 states in the same country, there is legal grounds for separation and divorce based on the impotency of the man. French law allows some marriages posthumously. This was also brought in during the war but now is a lot harder to get passed.  Proof has to be provided that there were definite plans to marry before the other half died, while permission from the President of France must also be sought.

There are some laws that still exist from days gone by and seem a little strange to us. In England, a wedding ceremony must take place inside a building, so within a church or court. If it takes place in a garden or at a beach, which is becoming more popular as the society becomes more secular, a wedding must also be performed in a court house.

Planning a wedding can be a stressful experience, with the amount of planning and money that goes into it without worrying whether you are breaking the law so best to check before you decided to tie the knot outside in England.

Filed in: Law

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