Everything you need to know about marriage in Armenia

14 Jun 2023·23 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Armenia 01

Thousands of marriages are performed every year in Armenia by foreigners and Armenian nationals. Armenia is an Asian country famous for its spectacular landscapes and cultural heritage. The country has some of the oldest churches and monasteries in the world, with a broad selection of beautiful wedding locations available to couples. There are two major types of marriages performed in Armenia, namely civil and religious marriages. Typically, a civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is legally binding; however, the country also recognizes marriages performed under one religion and its denomination. 

Only the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church has the authority to perform marriages that are recognized and protected by law in Armenia. Marriages performed in other churches or religions in general are not legal in the country. In the past, arranged marriages used to be common in rural areas and communities. The families of spouses were often in charge of all the marriage preparations and important decisions. It was the duty of two families to find suitable partners for their children upon reaching maturity. 

However, this has changed; arranged marriages are rare in Armenia, and most marriages are performed as a result of love between the two spouses who have given each other their free consent to marry. Marriages may also be performed in a traditional or customary setting; however, these types of marriages must be combined with a civil marriage for them to have any legal validity in Armenia and other foreign countries. The legal age in Armenia for male and female spouses used to be different. 

It was 18 years for male spouses and 17 years for female spouses. However, in a bid to reduce the number of child marriages and improve equality for both genders, the marriage age of female spouses was increased to be the same as that of men. Both men and women must now reach the age of 18 before they are allowed to perform legal marriages in Armenia. The rest of this article will touch on the marriage traditions as well as the various laws and rights of the country.

Civil Marriages

Civil marriages performed in Armenia hold legal grounds in the country and other parts of the world. A civil marriage is performed by an authorized registrar and takes place in the civil registry. Civil marriages are mandatory for all couples who want to get married in Armenia, except if they are members of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. The procedure of performing a marriage ceremony and concluding all the applications and registrations can take anywhere from a few days to several months. 

Generally, couples are unable to receive their marriage certificate until a period of 10 days from when they started the application process. Most times, couples obtain their certificate at the end of the 10-day or maximum 20-day period. The maximum waiting period under the civil law is three months; however, it generally does not take that long at all. Only marriages registered in the body of the civil status have legal grounds, and only one spouse is allowed to apply for the marriage. Both spouses are required to submit a joint marriage application for the state registration of the marriage. 

All marriages must be performed in person, and the use of online media or proxies is not allowed during the marriage registration. If one of the spouses is unavailable on the scheduled date of marriage, they may provide a separate declaration with approved signatures for authorization. Foreign spouses getting married are required to submit their applications to the minister of justice, who will grant the permit to continue with the marriage. There are various conditions and criteria that must be met by both spouses before they are allowed to perform civil marriages in Armenia. These are stated below.

Marriage Conditions 

  • The marriage must be between two unmarried people. Only a man and a woman who have never been married or are widowed or divorced at the time of contracting the marriage are valid.
  • Both partners must give their mutual approval. Marriages performed under duress or as a result of threats, coercion, or fraud are not allowed.
  • Spouses related by blood, direct link, or affinity are not allowed to marry each other. This includes parents and children, siblings, cousins, grandparents, and other family relations.
  • Marriage cannot happen between an adoptive parent and an adopted child or two adoptive siblings.
  • Both partners must be present during the registration. Marriages performed by a representative of an attorney are not allowed.
  • A partner who has been recognized by the court as being ineligible or incapacitated is not permitted to marry.

Documents Required  

  • A valid means of identification. Armenian spouses are required to submit a national identity card, while foreign nationals can submit a valid passport.
  • Government-issued birth certificates
  • Decision on the choice of surname. This will show if the spouse will be keeping their premarital surname or taking a joint surname upon marriage.
  • Both partners must provide witnesses who are of legal age.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Either of these documents must be provided by a spouse who was in a previous marriage that was legally dissolved as a result of the death or separation of a former spouse.
  • Affidavit of single status or certificate of no impediment This applies to foreign spouses, and this certificate must be issued by concerned authorities at the foreigner's home country or the embassy of their country in Armenia.

The marriage registration procedure may involve the payment of some fees by the couple. Also, all documents obtained from foreign countries must be apostilled and notarized with an authorization stamp to prove their legitimacy. Foreign documents may need to be translated into Armenian before their submission.

Religious Marriages 

Religious marriages are not legally binding in Armenia. Religion in the country is not very diverse, as about 97 percent of the total population are Christians. Other religions like Hinduism, atheism, and Islam make up the rest of the percentage. Even though marriages performed in religious settings are not recognized, those performed in the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church are recognized and protected by law. This is the largest denomination of all Christian churches in Armenia, and there are various ceremonial rites performed in marriages in the church.

 The wedding party may include the best man, maid of honor, dower girls, ring bearer, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other members of the family and friends. On the wedding day, the best man is frequently by the groom's side. Sometimes, the marriage celebration begins at the respective houses of the bride and groom before they converge on the church for the actual ceremony. Most church services are performed in the morning, and the bride and groom are joined together by the presiding minister.

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Marriage traditions in Armenia

Pillow Sharing 

This is a ceremonial rite that is unique to Armenians. On their wedding day, guests may present the newlyweds with pillows embroidered with the popular Armenian saying, "May you grow old on one pillow." This tradition symbolizes the wishes of the guests for the newlyweds to remain happily married forever.

Coin Toss 

This is a fun ceremonial rite where not just family and friends, but guests too, get to participate. When the bride and groom are walking down the aisle (after the wedding ceremony is concluded), guests toss coins at them, and this is used to symbolize riches and success in the lives of the newlyweds.

Khosk-kap 

This refers to the official ceremony where the groom asks for the hand of the bride in marriage. This is often done at a formal dinner attended by both families. The typical location used is the bride's family house, which is decorated with beautiful flowers and colorful patterns.

Same-sex marriages 

Marriages and other forms of relationships, like unions and registered partnerships between two people of the same sex, are not recognized in Armenia. In the country, marriage is regarded as the union between a man and a woman. Homosexuals have legal status but are not allowed to get married or adopt children. However, spouses who perform same-sex marriages in foreign countries are recognized provided that such marriages are done in accordance with the laws of the country where they were performed, which allow same-sex marriages.

Polygamy in Armenia

Polygamy is illegal in Armenia. The country is dominated by people of the Christian religious faith, and the religion does not allow marriages between multiple people. The country is secular; however, most Armenians are Christians, which totally reduced the number of people trying this type of marriage. A man who is already married must legally terminate such a union before marrying another woman, and vice versa.

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Marriage laws and rights, costs, and duties

Laws

Getting married in Armenia is straightforward; however, there are certain laws governing the act of marriage in the country. In Armenia, marriage is defined as the voluntary union between an eligible man and a woman with the aim of founding a family. This implies that before anyone can contract marriage, he or she must be legally capable of entering into marriage. The law sets the legal age for marriage at 18 years of age for males and females. Therefore, all citizens and foreigners must have attained this age before marriage can be allowed to take place. The definition also implies that marriage must be entered into voluntarily; the use of force, violence, or threats in order to force one to enter marriage is prohibited by the law in Armenia. 

Consent from both parties must be obtained before marriage can be conducted, and such consent must be obtained willingly. Using threats to force marriage or obtain consent to marriage is a ground upon which marriage can be declared void. Civil marriage is only recognized to have considerable legal value in Armenia; therefore, for marriage to be legally binding, it must be conducted civilly. Religious marriages do not have any legal value, but they are allowed to be conducted. Couples who wish to have their marriage officially recognized must have a civil ceremony first before conducting a religious ceremony. A religious marriage must be conducted at a religious institution, while a civil marriage must be conducted at the civil registry. Polygamy is illegal under the law of marriage in Armenia. 

Couples are only allowed to contract monogamous marriages; therefore, they are required to be single at the time of marriage and not have any subsisting marriages. This ensures that there is no impediment to marrying in the country. Another factor that may prevent two people from marrying is if they are related by blood or adoption. If any of the couple has been married in the past, he or she is required to submit proof of the dissolution of marriage, which can be in the form of a divorce certificate or death certificate. The act of marriage between immediate family members or close relatives, known as incestuous or consanguineous marriages, is prohibited. Marriage between first cousins, irrespective of which side of the family, is also against the law in Armenia. Informal unions or cohabitation are not recognized or protected by the laws of the country. 

If one of the couple is believed to be incapable of entering into marriage, such a marriage would be prevented from taking place, as couples are required to be in a stable state of mind before they can contract marriage. Both the husband and wife must be present at the wedding ceremony and at the time of marriage registration, as marriage by proxy or representation is prohibited under the law. If one of the couple is unavoidably absent due to security or health conditions, the ceremony would be conducted at the residence of the couple or at the medical institution where the spouse is admitted. Foreigners who wish to enter into marriage in Armenia must be capable of entering into marriage in their various home countries, as Armenia does not provide asylum for persons who are not permitted to enter into marriage in their home country.

Rights

Marriage in general provides certain rights and benefits that are not available to unmarried men and women. According to the law of the country, all men and women have the right to be married, provided the legal age of marriage has been reached. Both the husband and wife have the right to decide on the number of children they wish to have; they are both involved in the general decision-making process that affects the health and wellbeing of the family. Both the husband and wife have the right to be recognized as the legal guardians of the children, and they are both entitled to exercise their parental rights over the children when necessary. As painful as divorce is, couples have various reasons for ending relationships, and in Armenia, both the husband and wife have the right to file for divorce. 

If the divorce is based on mutual consent, it would be carried out according to the law of marriage in the civil status acts; however, if the divorce is filed by one spouse for specific reasons such as imprisonment of up to three years or abandonment, if one of the spouses is missing, the divorce may be finalized. After divorce is decided upon, the husband and wife both have the right to receive custody of the children, which is decided by the court and granted to the parent who best represents the children's interests. A man does not have the right to divorce his wife if she is at least three months pregnant. They are both granted the right to file a joint family tax rather than individually because they are thought to be one, as opposed to unmarried men and women who must file taxes separately. 

Couples in Armenia have the right to work and pursue their various career ambitions and goals without any restrictions or limitations at the workplace. Under the Armenian civil code, both the husband and wife have the right to inherit; at the demise of one of the couples, the surviving spouse is entitled to all the land and non-land assets of the deceased spouse. Spouses have the right to own, use, and dispose of properties as they wish without any restrictions or having to receive permission from themselves. They also have the right to decide under what marital regime the marriage is contracted. The right to change the marital regime of property is also available to couples, as is the right to sign a prenuptial agreement at the time of marriage registration.

Costs

Couples all over the world who want to marry are frequently faced with the dilemma of the total cost of marriage. Couples in Armenia are not exempted from this dilemma either; to contract a civil marriage in Armani's, couples should be looking to spend around 10,000 AMD if the marriage is to be held outside the office premises; couples who wish to hold a civil ceremony at a location of their choice should expect to spend around 50,000 AMD. Armenian citizens who are in the diaspora but wish to register their marriage in Armenia should expect to spend 150,000 AMD for the registration of marriage within two working days. 

Registration within 5-7 working days costs around 120,000 AMD and 50,000 AMD, respectively. An average wedding in Armenia costs a minimum of $5,000 to $10,000; couples from more wealthy families who want to perform an expensive wedding spend as much as $40,000 to $50,000. This quotation covers the cost of transportation, guest accommodation, the cost of the venue, decorations, cake, flowers, the couple's attire, the food and drinks at the event, music, the entertainment of guests, and food. 

Many average and middle-class families frequently struggle to meet the crippling cost of entering into a marriage in the country. Many families have to take out loans, which often take years before they are able to pay them back. Renting a car costs around 300,000–600,000 AMD, which is approximately $100–200. The cost can easily increase depending on the number of hours the vehicle is rented for. An average of 12,000–15,000 AMD, which is approximately $40–50, is spent on food and drinks for each guest.

Duties

The duties of the husband and wife in Armenian society are governed by national law. There is equality in the division of responsibilities between husband and wife in the home, but despite this equality, the woman is often in charge of all the domestic housework and is responsible for the management of the home. The husband is also responsible for providing for all the material needs of the family. The husband and wife have a duty to provide support for one another and the family as a whole, either physically, emotionally, or mentally. They are both obligated to show respect and loyalty to one another and to also ensure that mutual support and assistance are received when needed. 

They have a duty to ensure that the children grow up in an environment conducive to their proper development. Both the husband and wife have a duty to jointly contribute to the welfare and well-being of the family. They have a duty to provide protection for themselves and the children from any form of harm or disrespect that comes to the family. They are both responsible for making decisions that concern the health and wellbeing of the family.

Conclusion 

Armenia is a beautiful country and a popular spot for destination weddings for spouses around the world. Most Armenians perform two marriage ceremonies. The first is a civil marriage, while the second is a traditional or religious marriage. Traditional marriages are often vibrant and colorful, with Armenians spending a lot of money to make the day memorable.

Under the customs of the Armenian tradition, the bride's family may be required to foot the bill for the wedding ceremony. In modern marriages, both families often come together to pool resources and ensure the wedding is great. This article is a full guide to everything you need to know about marriage in Armenia.

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