Everything you need to know about marriage in Curaçaou

5 Aug 2023·23 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Curacao 01

Curacao, officially known as the Country of Curacao, is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea and the Dutch Caribbean region famous for its exotic beaches and kite sports. Every year, over 500 marriages are performed in this country by native Curaçaoans and foreigners from other countries. In Curacao, marriage is regulated by civil law, which means that a legal marriage must be conducted by a civil registrar at the Civil Registry Office. Upon the completion of the legal marriage, spouses may decide to perform other forms of marriage, such as religious, traditional, or symbolic marriages. The country offers diverse marriage options, and couples can choose to exchange vows at picturesque locations such as beaches, historic buildings, or gardens, adding a touch of romance to their special day. 

Moreover, the island's cultural diversity plays a significant role in marriage customs, with traditions influenced by Dutch, African, and Caribbean heritage. These customs often involve vibrant celebrations, traditional attire, music, and dance, making Curacaoan weddings unique experiences even for spouses from other countries. To get married in Curacao, both partners must be at least 18 years old, and child marriages are not common in the country. The largest ethnic group in Curacao is the Afro-Curacaoans. Therefore, most of the traditions and marriage practices in this country are performed according to the culture of this ethnicity. Continue reading to find out more about the types of marriages in Curacao as well as the various marriage traditions in the country.

Civil Marriages 

Civil marriages in Curacao are legally binding unions conducted by a civil registrar at the Civil Registry Office, adhering to the laws and regulations set forth by the country's civil code. This type of marriage is the most common and straightforward option for couples who wish to formalize their relationship in a legal manner on the island. To begin the process of a civil marriage in Curacao, the prospective spouses must first gather the required documentation. This typically includes valid passports, birth certificates, and residence permits for foreign nationals. It's essential to ensure that these documents are up-to-date and have not expired. If either party was previously married, they must provide proof of the termination of their previous marriage, either through a divorce decree or a death certificate of their former spouse. 

Once all necessary documentation is gathered, both partners must appear in person at the Civil Registry Office to register their intent to marry. During this appointment, they will be required to provide documentation and answer any questions the registrar may have. Additionally, a fee is usually charged for processing the marriage application. In Curacao, there is a mandatory waiting period between submitting the marriage application and the actual wedding ceremony. This waiting period is typically between two and six weeks, depending on various factors, such as nationality and residency status. During this time, the registrar conducts background checks and ensures that all legal requirements are met. The civil marriage ceremony itself is a relatively simple affair, usually held at the Civil Registry Office. It is a formal event conducted by the registrar, attended by the couple, two adult witnesses, and any additional guests the couple wishes to invite. 

The registrar will read the relevant sections of the civil code, which include the rights and responsibilities of marriage, and then ask both partners to exchange their vows. The couple will be required to sign the marriage register, and the witnesses will also sign as official confirmation of the marriage. After the ceremony, the registrar issues a marriage certificate, which serves as legal proof of the union. This document is essential for any subsequent administrative or legal matters, such as changing surnames or applying for spousal benefits. Spouses from foreign countries will be required to submit an apostille and other accompanying documents showing that they are within their legal rights to get married in Curacao and are not currently married in any part of the world.

Documents Required

  • A signed written request to the municipality informing the municipality that spouses want to get married
  • A valid means of identification for both spouses
  • Birth certificates with the names of the spouses’ parents
  • International declaration of not being married. This can be a certificate of no impediment to marriage.
  • Divorced or widowed partners will be required to submit a divorce or death certificate.
  • Two witnesses who are at least 21 years old must be provided.

Religious and Traditional Marriages 

Religious and Traditional marriages are allowed in Curacao; however, they are not legally binding on their own. Spouses must conduct a civil marriage before proceeding to other forms of marriage for the union to be legally recognized in the country. Religious marriages are solemnized by religious officials and follow the customs and rituals of the couple's faith. The process for religious marriages may vary depending on the religion involved. Most marriages here are performed in the church, mosque, or synagogue. Over 90 percent of the people living in Curaçao are Christians; therefore, most religious marriages are performed in the church and in accordance with Christian rites and practices. Traditional marriages in Curacao celebrate the island's rich cultural heritage and are influenced by a blend of Dutch, African, and Caribbean customs. 

These ceremonies often include vibrant celebrations and symbolic rituals that hold significant cultural importance. While not legally binding on their own, many couples opt to have a traditional ceremony in addition to their civil or religious marriage to honor their heritage and engage in meaningful cultural practices. In a traditional Curacaoan marriage, families play a central role in the celebration. The ceremony may involve elders or community leaders bestowing blessings and advice on the couple. Traditional attire is often worn, reflecting the cultural heritage of the bride and groom, and may include colorful fabrics and accessories. Music and dance are integral to traditional Curacaoan weddings, with lively performances adding to the festive atmosphere. Local music genres, such as tamb, tumba, and waltz, are commonly featured, encouraging guests to join in the merriment and celebration.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Curacao 02

Marriage Traditions in Curacao

Tambu

This is a unique local music genre in Curacao that is still being played at weddings to date. Tambú is a traditional Afro-Caribbean rhythm, often accompanied by drums and other percussion instruments. It has energetic beats and heartfelt lyrics that express the joys and challenges of life and love. The couple and other guests usually dance and celebrate when this music is played.

Larensy

A unique Curacaoan wedding tradition is the Larensy," or wedding parade. After the ceremony, the bride and groom, accompanied by their guests, take to the streets in a procession filled with music and dancing. The lively parade allows the couple to share their happiness with the community, and onlookers often join in the celebration.

Wedding Feast

Curacaoan weddings often feature an array of local delicacies and traditional dishes. Seafood plays an important role, given the island's coastal location, and dishes like keshi yena (stuffed cheese) and funchi (cornmeal porridge) are often served. The wedding feast is a time for guests to indulge in the island's flavors while bonding and celebrating with the newlyweds.

Same-sex Marriages 

Marriage between a man or woman of the same sex used to be illegal in Curacao. However, as of 2023, this type of marriage is now legal. Members of the same sex can legally get married and enjoy most of the legal rights and benefits available to opposite-sex couples. LGBT members may still face certain legal challenges that are not experienced by non-LGBT members in the country. Same-sex partners are not allowed to adopt in Curacao.

Polygamy in Curacao

Polygamous marriages are not allowed in Curacao. The country's civil code defines marriage as a union between two individuals, and any attempt to enter into a polygamous marriage would not be legally recognized. Under some religions or traditions, a man may be allowed to marry multiple spouses; however, these marriages will not have any legal presence in the country. Multiple partners are also not entitled to any legal marriage benefits in Curacao.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs, and Duties

Laws

The laws of marriage in Curacao are based on the Dutch Civil Code, as Curacao is a constituent country of the Netherlands. As with all laws, certain criteria must be met before marriage can be allowed to take place, and the same goes for marriage in Curacao. The prospective couple must have attained the minimum legal age for marriage, which is set at 18 years; however, minors who are aged 16–17 years may be allowed to contract marriage provided they have parental consent. Not only should the couple have attained marriageable age, but they must also be able to give their free and full consent to marriage. The use of force or threats to obtain consent from either party is against the law and a punishable offense. In Curacao, Civil marriage is the only legally recognized form of marriage; couples may decide to have religious ceremonies, but they would not be legally recognized. 

A civil ceremony conducted by a government-appointed official is required for the marriage to be legally recognized. When applying for marriage, both parties need to provide specific documents, such as birth certificates, valid identification, etc. If any of the couples have been married in the past but the marriage ended as a result of divorce or the death of one of the spouses, the concerned party would be required to provide proof of marital status like a divorce decree or death certificate to prove that the previous marriage is nonexistent. To have a witness at your wedding, they must be at least 21 years old. Registering a witness involves providing their full name, address, and date of birth, along with a copy of their up-to-date passport. 

Couples are required by law to submit their intention for marriage to the appropriate authorities before marriage can take place; this document must be signed by the couple. In some cases, there might be a waiting period between the submission of marriage intentions and the actual ceremony. Before getting married, couples must obtain a marriage license from the Civil Registry Office (Burgerlijke Stand). This license is required to proceed with the marriage ceremony. The law of marriage in Curacao recognizes marriages that are performed in other countries as long as they meet the requirements of the Dutch Civil Code. Same-sex marriages that are legally performed in countries where they are recognized are generally acknowledged and respected in Curacao.

Rights

Married couples in Curacao generally have various legal rights and responsibilities. The rights of married couples in Curacao are embedded in the law of the country. Spouses have equal rights to jointly owned property acquired during the marriage. They both have the right to own, use, or dispose of property jointly acquired in marriage. Married couples have the right to inherit each other's property in the event of one spouse's death or divorce, unless specified otherwise in a will or prenuptial agreement. 

Couples have the right to make medical decisions on behalf of each other if one of them is not in the right state of mind to make such decisions. They may also have the right to access each other's medical records. Marriage in Curacao comes with the right to file taxes as one unit. Married couples are entitled to certain tax benefits or advantages that are not available to unmarried individuals. Immigration and Citizenship rights are one of the many rights available to couples in Curacao. Marriage to a Curacao citizen may facilitate the immigration process for a foreign spouse. Some social benefits and entitlements may be extended to spouses, such as pension benefits or social security benefits. Married couples enjoy Maternity and Parental Leave as part of the rights of marriage. Curacao offers maternity and parental leave benefits to new mothers and fathers, allowing them to take time off work to care for their newborns while still getting paid. 

Married couples in Curacao have the right to adopt children jointly. The adoption process is subject to specific legal requirements and procedures set forth by the country's adoption laws. Both parties are entitled to divorce rights. If the marriage ends in divorce, each spouse has the right to seek a fair division of property and, in some cases, spousal support. The process of divorce is governed by family law, and it may involve issues such as child custody, child support, and alimony. Upon marriage, individuals in Curacao have the option to change their last name to their spouse's last name or combine both last names. The name change process involves legal procedures at the Civil Registry Office. The husband and wife have the right to work and receive equal pay for the work done. Spousal privilege is also one of the rights couples in Curacao enjoy. This means that married couples cannot be compelled to testify against each other in court proceedings, with certain exceptions.

Costs

The cost of marriage in Curacao can vary depending on various factors, such as the type of ceremony, location, and additional services or arrangements you choose. There is a fee associated with obtaining a marriage license from the Civil Registry Office. The fee is approximately $18 for the marriage certificate. If you opt for a civil ceremony conducted by a government-appointed official, there may be a fee for the ceremony itself. The fee costs approximately US $197–UUS $424 for the wedding package. Couples who choose to have a wedding at a specific venue should keep in mind that there will be costs associated with renting the venue. Venue costs depend on the location and capacity of the venue. Some venues may offer packages that include catering services, while others may charge separately for venue rental and catering. 

The price per person for catering will depend on the menu you select. Different menus (e.g., buffet, plated dinner, or cocktail reception) will have varying costs. The total cost of catering will be influenced by the number of guests attending the wedding. Caterers may offer per-person pricing, so the more guests you have, the higher the overall cost. If you plan to offer alcoholic beverages, such as an open bar or specific drink packages, this will add to the catering costs. Some catering companies may include service staff in their packages, while others may charge separately for waitstaff and bartenders. Hiring a professional photographer and videographer for the event may come with its own costs. In general, the total cost of marriage in Curacao ranges from $2000 to as much as $4000 or more, depending on how financially stable the couple is or how elaborate the ceremony is.

Duties

The duties of couples can vary based on individual beliefs, cultural norms, and personal preferences. The key to a successful marriage is a willingness to work together, compromise, and prioritize the well-being of each other and the relationship. As a married couple in Curacao, there are various duties and responsibilities that both partners typically share. These duties are generally based on mutual respect, support, and cooperation. Couples are expected to provide emotional, financial, and practical support to each other throughout their marriage. Sharing household chores and responsibilities is a common duty in a marriage. Both partners are expected to contribute to maintaining the home and taking care of daily tasks. If the couple has children, both partners have a duty to care for and raise their children together, making decisions about their well-being and education. 

Open and honest communication is essential in a marriage. Couples should listen to each other's concerns, share their feelings, and resolve conflicts in a respectful manner. Married couples are generally responsible for managing their finances together. This includes budgeting, saving, and making joint decisions about financial matters. Showing respect and consideration for each other's feelings, opinions, and personal boundaries is vital in a marriage. Remaining faithful and loyal to each other is a fundamental duty in a monogamous marriage. Couples are encouraged to nurture their emotional bond and spend quality time together to strengthen their relationship. Supporting each other's physical and mental well-being is an essential duty in a marriage. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle and being there during challenging times are part of this responsibility. Married couples are expected to make important decisions together, considering each other's input and opinions.

Conclusion 

Curacao allows spouses to perform different types of unions, such as civil, traditional, religious, or symbolic marriages; however, only marriages performed civilly are legally recognized. Civil marriages are the most common and generally require specific documentation and a waiting period. Religious marriages are solemnized by religious officials and follow the customs of the couple's faith, while traditional marriages celebrate the island's diverse cultural heritage, featuring vibrant music, dance, and symbolic rituals. 

Some popular wedding venues in Curacao include Avila Beach Hotel, Curacao Marriott Beach Resort, Sandals Royal Curacao, and Renaissance Wind Creek Curacao Resort. We hope this article has provided you with everything you need to know about marriage in Curaçao.

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