Everything you need to know about marriage in Dominica

29 Aug 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Dominica 01

Dominica, officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island country in the Caribbean. The country is popular for its stunning landmarks, tropical rainforests, and natural hot springs. Over 200 marriages are performed every year in the country by both Dominican nationals and foreigners. Dominica is a popular tourist destination, and a lot of spouses from other countries who visit the country seize the opportunity to get married there. In Dominica, couples may get married in a civil, religious, customary, or symbolic wedding ceremony. Both civil and religious marriages are legally binding in the country; however, all religious marriages must be equally registered with the government of the country to ensure their legal validity. 

Marriage is a significant cultural and legal institution in Dominica and is considered an important rite of passage for many individuals. The island nation has a rich tradition of marriage ceremonies, which often incorporate elements of the local culture such as music, dance, and food. Many couples choose to get married in Dominica because of its beautiful natural setting, which makes for a picturesque and memorable wedding. Dominica has various locations that can be used for destination weddings and honeymoons. Civil marriages in the country usually involve the submission of certain documents, which will be touched on later in the article. 

In traditional families, the husband is typically considered the head of the household and is responsible for providing for the family financially, while the wife is responsible for managing the household and raising the children. However, this is not the case in all families, especially in urban areas. Also, under the civil codes of the country, the husband and wife are regarded as equals with the same rights and duties in the marriage. Family is very important in Dominican communities, and the entire families of both the bride and groom usually play their parts in marriages. Continue reading to find out more about the types of marriages in Dominica as well as the popular customs and traditions in the country.

Civil Marriages 

A civil marriage performed in Dominica is legally binding in the country and all other parts of the world. For a civil marriage to be recognized, it must be performed by an authorized marriage registrar, and there are certain marriage conditions that must be met by both partners. Both partners will be required to obtain a marriage application form. This form must be filled out and signed by both partners and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, Magistrate, Notary Public, Commissioner of Oaths, or Registrar. The bride and groom must enter into the marriage contract voluntarily and with their own consent. This is an important requirement for both foreign and Dominican spouses. 

No marriage officer will register a non-consensual marriage. The minimum marriage age in Dominica is 18 years, but in exceptional cases, spouses aged 16 may be allowed to marry with the provision of parental or guardian consent. This written consent must be attached to other documents submitted during the registration process. Spouses from other countries will be required to provide proof of Dominican residence. At least one of the spouses must have been residing in the country prior to the wedding. Both partners will also be required to provide two witnesses during the marriage registration. 

The witnesses must be at least 18 years old. For a couple to perform a civil marriage, they must be in good legal standing with the government of Dominica. This implies that they must not be convicted of any crime at the time of marriage. Before the partners will be able to obtain the marriage license and certificate, there are certain fees that must be paid. All the documents must be provided in English. Therefore, foreign spouses from countries where English is not the official language may be required to hire an accredited translator to translate all documents. The documents obtained from foreign countries must be legalized by the Dominican consulate prior to their submission. After the couple makes their marriage declaration, the marriage officer may make an official publication on the notice board, during which he or she will observe if anything comes up that may prevent the marriage from happening. 

If no one brings up an issue such as a previous marriage, the ceremony will proceed as intended. Spouses who were previously married will be required to provide valid documents showing that they are no longer in any marriage, either at home or abroad. There are no specific medical requirements to contract a marriage in Dominica; however, couples are often advised to perform some vital medical examinations to ascertain if they are both medically compatible with each other and are facing no underlying illnesses. Both partners getting married must be in a good mental state and in sound health before concluding the civil ceremony. The documentation that must be provided by both spouses is stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification. Native Dominicans may provide a national ID card, while foreign spouses may provide a valid passport.
  • Both spouses must provide government-issued Beth certificates with their names as they are currently addressed.
  • Deed Poll. This document must be submitted by spouses who changed their names prior to the marriage.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Either of these documents must be submitted as proof of a previous marriage's legal termination by separated or newlywed spouses.
  • Both partners must provide two valid witnesses within their legal capacity to act as such.
  • Certificate of no impediment to marriage This document must be provided by foreign spouses to show they are facing no legal obstacles that may prevent the marriage.

Religious Marriages 

In Dominica, the most common religion is Christianity. Almost 90 percent of the total population is Christian, with the Roman Catholic Church being the largest denomination. Religious marriages performed in Dominica are also referred to as "canonical marriages." Upon the conclusion of the church ceremony, the church will be required to register the marriage with the appropriate Dominican officials to ensure the legal validity of such a marriage. 

Only the Roman Catholic Church is allowed to register a marriage on behalf of the couple. Marriages in other church denominations are also legal and permitted; however, the couple will be required to present themselves at the registrar's office to legalize the marriage. Catholic Churches in Dominica typically request the baptismal, holy communion, and confirmation certificates of both partners before the church ceremony takes place. Couples may have to book several months in advance at the most popular churches or parishes in Dominica.

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Marriage traditions in Dominica

Throwing Petals 

After the conclusion of the church wedding, rose petals are usually thrown on the bride and groom by their family and friends as they leave the church. This is a popular wedding tradition that is issued to symbolize good luck and happiness in the couple's new life together.

Arras

This is a popular ceremonial rite in Dominica that is performed in the church. Here, thirteen gold rings are carried and then given to the priest by a young person. The priest blesses the rings and presents them to the groom. The groom is required to give the rings to his bride as a way of trusting her with all his material possessions.

Exchange of Gifts

Dominican weddings usually involve the exchange of various gifts between the couple and the guests. The guests often present gift items to the couple during the wedding reception. It is also common for the couple to present souvenir gifts to the guests at the ceremony.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages are illegal in Dominica. There is no recognition for same-sex unions or marriages, and it is illegal to be a homosexual in the country. The practice of same-sex sexual activities may result in up to 10 years' imprisonment. There are no discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and same-sex couples are not allowed to head households.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is prohibited in Dominica. According to the civil codes of the country, all marriages must be of a monogamous nature. A single man is only allowed to marry one woman at a time, likewise a single woman. The country is also dominated by Christians, and polygamy is not recognized under this religious belief. Therefore, cases of polygamy in Dominica are quite rare in both rural and urban areas.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

The laws regarding marriage in Dominica are governed by the Marriage Act. There is no provision for the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, partnerships, or civil unions in the country. Only couples of opposite sexes are allowed to legally marry in Dominica. The minimum age for marriage is 18 years old. Anyone who wishes to be married under the age of 18 must be at least 16 years old and must be able to provide written parental consent or the permission of a legal guardian in the absence of parental consent. In Dominica, the consent of the father has more value than the mother's. Therefore, parental permission must be obtained from the father. Only in cases where the father is incapacitated and there is no legal guardian can a mother give consent to marriage. 

The groom and bride must also give their willing and voluntary consent before marriage can take place. The Marriage Act states that marriage must not be contracted forcefully or without the couple's knowledge. The groom and bride must have a comprehensive understanding of the institution of marriage and all that it entails. Couples must obtain a marriage license and have the ceremony performed by a licensed marriage officer, such as a judge or minister. The ceremony must be conducted in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must be at least 18 years old and have valid identification documents. The groom and bride must not be related to one another in any way. 

According to the Marriage Act, the husband and wife must be single at the time of marriage. They must either be divorced, unmarried, or widowed to be able to contract a new marriage agreement. Any of the spouses who is a divorcee is obligated to provide a copy of the original divorce decree to the appropriate authorities. In the case of widowhood, the concerned party is required to provide the death certificate of the former spouse. According to the Marriage Act, couples have the option of choosing to contract either a civil marriage, a religious marriage, or a customary marriage. 

They are all legally recognized in the country. Couples wishing to get married in a religious ceremony must first obtain a marriage license from the Registrar General's office and then have the ceremony performed by a registered religious official, such as a minister or priest. Couples wishing to be married customarily must also obtain a marriage license, and the marriage must be conducted by an authorized marriage officiant according to the couple's customs and traditions. All marriages must be registered by the couple at the civil registry for them to be legally binding.

Rights

Marriage is protected by the Constitution of the country; therefore, the rights of marriage are entrenched in the Constitution, and these rights must not be infringed upon. The right to divorce is one of the rights available to couples in Dominica. Divorce can be granted on mutual grounds or on specific grounds such as adultery, desertion, and mental or physical cruelty. Couples have the right to acquire, own, and dispose of property together, regardless of who owns the property. They also have the right to a fair division of property in the event of divorce or separation. 

They have the right to sign a prenuptial agreement, which protects the property of both parties in the event of divorce. The husband and wife enjoy equal inheritance rights. Married couples have the right to inherit from each other in the event of the death of one of the spouses. They both have the right to make major decisions concerning the welfare of the family. Marriage grants couples the right to enjoy tax benefits. Couples may be able to file taxes jointly and receive tax benefits that unmarried people in the country do not have. 

Next-of-kinship rights are available to married couples in Dominica. They both have the right to make one another their next of kin under any circumstances. They both possess medical decision-making rights. Married couples have the right to make medical decisions for each other in the event one of them is unable to make those decisions for themselves. The husband and wife have the right to raise children and adopt children together.

Costs

The cost of hosting a civil wedding, a religious wedding, or a customary wedding varies from one to another. Generally, in Dominica, couples will need to pay a fee to obtain a marriage license, which is typically around $100. Couples may also need to pay a fee for the ceremony itself, which can range from around 300 dollars for a simple ceremony to as much as 5,000 dollars for a more elaborate one. 

In addition, couples may need to pay for other expenses, such as the cost of a wedding planner, a wedding dress and tuxedo, flowers, music, and photography. Foreign couples may choose to have a destination wedding in Dominica. The cost of travel and accommodation expenses for themselves and their guests is often expensive.

Duties

Couples have various duties and responsibilities to carry out in the home. These duties must be properly carried out by couples in order to ensure the proper management of the home. Married couples have the responsibility to mutually support and assist each other at all times. Whether physically, financially, mentally, or emotionally This includes providing for basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter and being available as often as possible. There is no law that states that the wife has to obey her husband at all times, but there must be reciprocal respect in the family. 

They have a duty to treat each other with respect and not engage in physical or emotional abuse. The husband and wife are both responsible for the welfare of the family. Married couples have a duty to be faithful to each other and not engage in extramarital affairs. There must be loyalty between husband and wife as often as possible. The husband and wife must provide emotional and physical companionship to each other because this is one of their legal duties. The husband and wife have a duty to raise, train, and support any children they may have together until the children are able to make decisions on their own.

Final Thoughts 

Dominica is a beautiful Caribbean country with various natural attractions that make it a perfect romantic spot for weddings and honeymoons. Most couples from other countries perform symbolic weddings in the country. These weddings are usually conducted according to the terms of the couple without the need for the submission of documents.

Foreign spouses who wish to get married in the country are required to arrive three days prior to the wedding ceremony. The witnesses provided will also be required to provide their valid means of identification during the marriage registration. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Dominica.

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