Everything you need to know about marriage in Angola

7 Apr 2023·19 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Angola 01

The southern African country of Angola allows both civil and religious or traditional marriages. Religious marriages constitute the largest percentage of marriages held annually in the country. The religion in the country is quite diverse; however, most of the citizens are Christians. More than 80% of marriages held in the country are performed by Roman Catholic and Protestant couples. Both civil and religious or traditional marriages are recognized and protected under the laws of the country. A person who wants to get married in Angola must have reached the minimum legal age of 18 before doing so. Spouses who are below this age may also get married, but there must be written consent and approval from the parents or guardian.

According to Angolan laws, unions requiring bride price payment are prohibited in the country. However, traditional marriages with dowries and bride prices paid by the groom and his family continue. In Angola, polygamy is also prohibited. Bigamy is a legal offense that can result in jail time, fines, or a combination of the two. However, marriage between more than two people is still quite popular in the country. Polygyny is still actively practiced in Angola, where a man has about three to four wives in his house. The law states that both men and women have equal status in the family, and mutual decision-making in matters affecting spouses and the family at large is emphasized. Read on to learn more about the types of marriages in Angola as well as the laws and rights guiding them.

Civil marriage 

A civil marriage is legally binding in Angola. This type of marriage is less common in Angola due to the processes involved. Couples usually find the application and registration tedious, and this amounts to the reason why religious marriages are more popular in the country. This type of ceremony is usually held in the registry or town hall and performed by a state-authorized registrar. Couples must have no impediments to marriage before filing a marriage application in Angola. They must ensure that their health and medical records are in good condition. Before proceeding with the marriage planning, the spouses must undergo medical tests to ensure that there is no illness or venereal disease. Also, both partners must be mentally fit and have the legal capacity to get married. This implies that partners must have no restrictions or prohibitions that are preventing them from getting married, either in Angola or their home country (for foreign nationals). The documents required by both spouses during the marriage application and registration process in Angola are stated below.

Required Documents

  • A valid means of identification. Both spouses are required to provide originals and photocopies of their national ID card or passport.
  • Copies of the birth certificate This must be provided by both partners, showing all the necessary information about their date of birth and the names of their respective parents.
  • Declaration of residency This must be submitted by a foreign spouse living in Angola. The document must show that they have been living in the country prior to the marriage.
  • Parental consent. This must be provided by spouses who are below the minimum legal age to get married.
  • Resident alien identification card
  • A spouse who is of military age in Angola must submit the required military document.
  • Certificate of single status. This is a document required of both foreign nationals and Angolans that must show they are not in any current relationship or marriage with a person other than their current spouse.
  • Divorce decree. The divorce decree must be submitted by a partner who separated from their former spouse. The paperwork will serve as evidence that the marriage was lawfully terminated. Foreign spouses may request this document from their home country or the authorities at their consulate or embassy. To prove their authenticity, all documents must be translated into the official Angolan language (Portuguese) and apostilled with an official stamp.
  • Death certificate. This applies to spouses who were in a previous marriage where the former partner died.

Religious and traditional marriages

Religious marriages are the most common type of marriage held in Angola. They are performed by an authorized clergyman, such as a priest, pastor, or imam, in the place of worship of the couples. Most of the religious marriages held in Angola are of the Christian faith due to the large population of Christians in the country. They usually consist of the normal ceremonial rites of church services, where the procession begins with the couple and their respective families. The bride is walked down the aisle by her father, and after prayers are made by the priest, she exchanges vows and rings with her husband, and the officiant then pronounces the couple husband and wife. The spouses are allowed to draw up their own vows, and before the marriage is held in the church, a notice of intention to marry must have been published by the church to let the public know about the ceremony and ensure there is no impediment to such a marriage.

Same-sex marriages

The marriage between two people in Angola is legal. However, the bill was just recently passed in 2021, and unions between same-sex couples are still subject to some discrimination. Same-sex couples lawfully married in Angola are entitled to the rights and benefits of marriage, with the exception of some. Same-sex couples do not have the right to adopt children; however, the country has put discrimination protections in place.

Polygamous Marriages 

Under the civil and customary laws, polygamy is prohibited in Angola. According to the laws of the country, a man is not allowed to have more than one wife, likewise a woman. However, polygamous marriages are widespread in the country. Men in the country are still marrying multiple wives based on their financial capabilities. Christianity prohibits polygamous marriages, and couples practicing this type of marriage may not legally perform the marriage and, as such, cannot be recognized or protected under the law.

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Marriage traditions in Angola

Alambamento 

This refers to the bride price and is an ancient ritual that is performed in Angolan marriages. It used to be very popular in the past; however, it is less popular now, with only a few couples in rural areas and communities still actively performing this tradition. Here, the groom and his family go to the bride's house to officially ask for her hand in marriage. This proposal is typically made in conjunction with the presentation of various gifts and presents. The bride's family often draws up a long list of items that must be presented by the groom. The belief is that when a bride leaves the house to get married, manpower is lost, and the only compensation for it is the gifts and money received from the groom.

Angolan attires 

The outfits worn by the bride and groom are usually unique and extravagant, according to the beliefs and customs of their regions and communities. The traditional Angolan dress worn by the couple is usually made with different beautiful patterns and designs. The outfit is usually adorned with different ornaments, such as beads, necklaces, and bracelets. Batik fabric is also worn by couples during the celebrations. For the church wedding, the bride and groom are dressed in a suit and a white gown, respectively. However, the couples usually change their outfits to more traditional ones during the reception.

Wedding Reception

After the wedding ceremony is concluded in a religious place of worship, the newlyweds, their families, and friends, as well as all other guests, proceed to the reception venue. During the movement, other well-wishers and enthusiasts may also join the reception ceremony to celebrate with the couple. It is common for the reception to have a lot more people than the church ceremony. At the reception, a toast is often made to the couples, and they are also presented with additional gift items while everyone is singing, dancing, and eating.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Angola is a secular country with Christianity as its most practiced religion. Marriage laws, on the other hand, are not based on Christian principles. The constitution regulates the laws of marriage in Angola. It is important to note that all the laws have to be understood and obeyed before marriage can be conducted. The law of marriage states that only persons who are 18 years of age or older may contract marriage without parental consent; younger individuals who are between the ages of 15 and 16 may get married provided parental consent is obtained. Marriage is seen as a voluntary act between interested parties; therefore, both parties must understand the concept of marriage and willingly give consent to contracting marriage. Whatever marriage was contracted with the use of force or coercion is not allowed under the law. The law prohibits wedding parties from accepting or giving bride price. Same-sex marriage is recognized and protected by the law in Angola, as are marriages done according to one's traditional beliefs. With Christianity being the dominant religion in Angola, monogamy is the legally recognized form of marriage; however, polygamy is still widely practiced due to the cultural beliefs of many Angolans.

Incestuous marriages between persons who share a common ancestor or between persons who are related by adoption or through marriage, also known as an "alliance link," are prohibited by the law. A civil marriage must be conducted in the presence of a local registrar after all requirements have been met and all documentation and paperwork have been verified. This law affects foreigners as well. Foreigners may get married in Angola, provided they obey all the necessary rules and regulations. Marriages in embassies or consulates are not allowed under the law. Intending couples must be single at the time of marriage, and in the situation where one of the spouses was previously married, a divorce certificate in the case of annulment of marriage or a death certificate in the case of widowhood must be provided by the concerned party, according to the law. Couples must provide two witnesses at the time of marriage. Marriage must be registered with the appropriate authorities after the license to marry has been issued. Couples may not marry until a marriage license has been issued. A foreign national who marries an Angolan may receive citizenship by virtue of marriage. Marriages between Angolans abroad are recognized in Angola and have to be registered with the government.

Rights

The institution of marriage provides access to equal rights for both men and women in Angola. Spouses have the right to private family life as stated by the law. Couples have the right to gain employment in whatever career paths they desire; they are not limited to the confines of the home. Both husband and wife have the right to file for divorce, although some cultures do not allow it and often accuse the wife of instigating it. Married couples have the right to procreate or adopt children if they have the ability to, and to raise them according to their various beliefs and morals. The couple has the right to report any form of domestic or sexual violence committed against them. Couples have the right to own property and assets jointly and separately and the right to dispose of any property. The right to be involved in economic, social, and political activities is available to both parties. Couples have the right to choose where their family will live. The right to receive assistance from the government in the form of health care during pregnancy or illness is available to all legally married couples in Angola. Couples have the legal right to use each other as next of kin in an emergency. Children also have a right to proper education and upbringing as well as maintenance from their parents, and in return, the parents have the right to receive care from their children when they're old.

Costs

Angola has rich customs and traditions, and when it comes to the concept of marriage, these traditions are displayed to the fullest through every step of the marriage process. An average Angolan wedding is estimated to cost around $15,000–$25,000 or more, and this can easily increase based on what the couple has planned. Creating a wedding budget can be a nightmare, but it is very advisable to have a plan and work strictly with it, as things can easily get out of hand and the "plan" would be almost useless. The catering and venue often take about 50 percent of the budget, while the other expenses take the remaining 50 percent. Before now, many Angolan weddings were sponsored by the bride's family; the weight of the finances of the ceremony rested on the shoulders of the bride's family, but in recent times, the responsibility is shared among the two families. Everything from the attire of the couples down to the honeymoon and every miscellaneous expense must be properly accounted for as these wedding traditions can go on for days.

Duties

The duties and roles of husband and wife in Angolan society are split equally and not subject to gender roles. Although women are often in charge of taking care of the children and the household, this duty can also be performed by the husband. The responsibility to provide for the welfare of the family rests on the shoulders of both spouses; there are even many cases in Angola where the household is headed by the wife. Couples have a duty to respect one another and each other's opinions; to be loyal; to support one another; to love one another; and to be committed. Married couples are expected to provide proper education and maintenance for the children and ensure the moral and social inclinations of the family. Respect for each other's families is a duty for both spouses. The couple have a duty to protect the family and its name from any form of disrespect. Couples should ensure that they treat each other as well as their children. The duties of men and women in a traditional Angolan setting also depend on what the customs and traditions spell out.

Conclusion 

Both Angolan nationals and foreigners are allowed to get married in the country, but there are certain conditions and requirements that must be met by partners. As stated earlier, the minimum legal age to marry in the country is 18. There are few cases where exceptions to this law may be allowed, such as under special conditions where a male or female aged 16 or older will be allowed to marry. This age bracket must not be exceeded, and even with parental consent or authorization, the exemptions stated above cannot be violated by going lower on the marriage age.
Spouses are required to submit all the documents needed during the marriage application process and also ensure there are no instructions that can prevent them from getting married, such as a previous marriage that was not terminated or a prohibition from getting married in Angola due to various reasons. This article includes every vital detail about marriage in Angola.

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