Everything you need to know about marriage in Honduras

22 May 2023·22 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Honduras 01

Honduras is a Central American country famous for its rich natural resources. Every year, thousands of Honduran nationals and foreign couples get married in the country. There are three major ways in which a person can get married in Honduras. These are civil, free union, and religious marriages. All three types of marriage are recognized under the laws of the country; however, civil marriages are the most common type of marriage and the only legally binding marriage in Honduras. A major reason for this is the low cost of contracting it and how easy it is to annul or dissolve the marriage. 

In a civil marriage, there are fees that must be paid by the spouses. When compared to religious and other traditional forms of marriage, the total payment that will be paid in a marriage performed civilly is quite small. Religious marriages usually involve a lot of money, from the church service to the wedding reception. Honduras has various natural attractions that make the country a top spot for destination weddings. Foreign couples from around the world get married in the country every year. The marriage laws are quite straightforward, and the process of getting married is simple. 

On the spur of the moment, some tourists even decide to marry in this lovely country. The country's marriage age is 18 years. In the past, the minimum marriage age was 16 years, provided that there was parental consent. However, this law has changed over the years. The laws guiding the act of marriage in Honduras now state that marriage cannot be performed by anybody younger than the age of 18; there are no longer any exceptions allowed. Continue reading to find out more about the marriage laws and rights in Honduras.

Civil marriages 

A civil marriage performed in Honduras is legally binding in the country as well as other parts of the world. Civil marriages are performed in the civil registry by a state-authorized notary or registrar, and this type of marriage usually involves the submission of various documents by both spouses to the registry office contracting the marriage. The civil registry must be located in the municipality of at least one of the spouses, especially in cases where either of the spouses is a foreigner. The couple is required to obtain a marriage license and certificate after the conclusion of the marriage registration, and this process usually takes several weeks. Before spouses are allowed to perform civil marriages in the country, there are some eligibility criteria that are checked by the concerned authorities. 

Both spouses are required to have reached the age of 18, as stated earlier in the introduction section of the article. Child marriages were becoming rampant, with over 30% of marriages and unions in the country being performed by spouses below the age of 18. This was why the marriage age became fixed at 18 without exception. Both foreigners and Honduran nationals are required to be fit for marriage in terms of the health of their respective spouses. In a situation where a man or woman has a venereal disease or mental illness, a marriage may not be contracted. 

The rule of thumb is for both partners to go for a medical checkup, where various important tests and examinations will be carried out to ensure both spouses can freely get married without any room for future complications. Civilly, a marriage can only be conducted by two people who are not related to each other. Couples who are related by a direct link or affinity, like cousins, siblings, parents, etc., are not permitted to get married in the country. The civil registry checks all the documents submitted by the spouses, and the home country of foreign spouses is sometimes contacted to ensure all the information submitted by such a spouse is correct. 

In the case of foreign spouses, some documents that are not available to them in Honduras may be required, and these can be sent directly by the concerned authorities at the home country or their embassy in Honduras. All the documents must include a notary and an apostille as evidence of their originality, and those that are in other foreign languages will need to be translated into Spanish. The documents that are required of spouses performing a civil marriage are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification. This includes a Honduran national identity card or a valid passport.
  • Both spouses are required to submit certified copies of their birth certificates.
  • A certificate of civil status. If requested by a civil registry, the spouse must submit an affidavit of single status to show that they are not involved in any union or marriage with another person.
  • Medical certificates. Both spouses are required to provide copies of their medical tests and examinations, such as those for venereal diseases like HIV tests, as well as a pregnancy test, if applicable.
  • A marriage application must be obtained by the spouses getting married from the Dirección Ejecutiva de Ingresos.
  • Both spouses are required to provide two witnesses who have the legal right to do so.

Religious Marriages

The predominant religion in Honduras is Christianity. This fact is present in other Central American countries. Rigid marriages are not legally binding in Honduras, and before a religious marriage is contracted, the couple is expected to have performed a civil marriage, unless they do not want their marriage to be legal. The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest. Christian church denomination, with over 38 percent of the country being under this denomination. The evangelical Protestants are closely followed by the Pentecostals and various other churches. 

The rate at which other types of marriages are performed in the country is quite low. Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church usually includes a lot of unique traditions, and the couples exchange vows and rings during the ceremony. The vows may be presented by the church or drawn up by spouses, depending on their preferences. However, before church marriages are performed, the two spouses must have met all the necessary requirements as regards the specific church where the ceremony will take place.

Free Unions

Free unions are also common in Honduras, largely due to the little to no expenses involved. Two spouses who have been living together for a long period of time can declare themselves in a free union and cohabitate. These kinds of couples do not get to enjoy the benefits of marriage in the country. 

In Honduras, most people who enter free unions are usually young (below the age of 30). The free union may run for several years until the spouses feel they are mature enough and ready to officially conduct a legal marriage.

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Marriage traditions in Honduras

The processional 

In Honduras, Catholic Church weddings begin with a professional ceremony where the various members of the wedding party enter the church before the marriage ceremony begins. The groom and his best man usually enter from the side of the church and are shortly followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen, who enter from the main entrance. After everyone has entered the church, the bride and her father walk down the aisle and make a beautiful grand entrance. If her father is unavailable, she may be walked by a male elder in the family.

Wedding Reception 

The wedding reception is usually a party that is held after the church marriage service is concluded. Most wedding receptions are usually made up of several activities that are performed by the couples, their friends and families (the wedding party), as well as all other guests present at the party. The norm is for the best man and maid of honor to make toasts to the couple.

Honeymoon

This is a ritual that often concludes most of the wedding ceremonies in Honduras. A day or a couple of days after the marriage celebration is completed, couples will often go to the top destinations in the country or travel to another beautiful country of their choice to celebrate their new era and spend quality time with each other. The honeymoon usually lasts anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks.

Same-sex and polygamous marriages

In Honduras, two people of the same sex are not allowed to get married. However, being a homosexual in the country is legal. Homosexuality has been legal in Honduras since 1899, but under no circumstances may same-sex couples perform a marriage or union. Same-sex couples may face various legal consequences.

Under the marriage laws of Honduras, polygamy is prohibited. Despite the fact that the law states a marriage can only be a union between a man and a woman, polygyny is still very common. In fact, there are households where Honduran husbands have up to seven wives or even more. The country has been trying to curb these types of marriages more, but there has not been much difference.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Honduras is one of the countries in Central America whose laws of marriage are relatively easy to adhere to. The law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman who are eligible to contract marriage. This means that the law does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions between persons of the same sex; however, same-sex activity is not illegal in the country, but they are not recognized as spouses. Same-sex couples in other countries are not also recognized as couples in Honduras. The law recognizes only civil marriages; couples may decide to hold religious marriages only after they have contracted a civil marriage, which must be conducted by an authorized official according to all that the law stipulates. 

Any minister who conducts a religious marriage while a civil marriage has not been contracted is liable to face punishment under the law. De facto, unions between people are legal if the opposite sex is recognized, but the couple must meet certain requirements before they can be granted the same rights and benefits as married couples. The minimum legal age of marriage has been raised to 18 years for both men and women in Honduras. Those who wish to contract marriage without parental consent or the permission of a legal guardian or a judge must be at least 21 years old; those younger than 21 years old (18) have to obtain parental permission or a legal guardian's permission to be able to contract marriage. The law guiding marriage in Honduras classifies the practice of polygamy as illegal; the law only recognizes monogamy. 

The man is not allowed to marry more than one wife; however, the practice is widely spread within the country, and men marry more than one wife provided they have the means to cater to their needs. At the time of marriage, neither of the couple must be in a legally binding marriage; they both have to dissolve such a marriage before entering into a new one. If they have been married in the past, they have to provide proof of the dissolution of their marriage in the form of a divorce or death certificate. Persons who share a similar bloodline are not allowed to enter into marriage. 

Siblings (both biological and adopted), stepsiblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, grandparental figures, and so on are not allowed to marry one another because they share a common ancestor. Foreigners who wish to enter into marriage in Honduras must also have the permission to do so in their home country, because if it is found that there is a restriction, marriage must not be contracted. Foreigners and citizens have to submit all necessary documents to the appropriate authorities in order to verify the identity and marital status of the couple. 

There must not be any legal impediment to marriage; a certificate stating this must be submitted alongside all documents. There must be at least two witnesses who are legally adults to testify to the authenticity of the relationship at the time of marriage. Both the husband and wife must give their consent to marriage willingly, and all consent gotten must be on the terms of the couple. One of the requirements that couples must meet before entering into a marriage contract is mental stability. Forced marriage is considered a criminal offense under the law, and its practice has been banned.

Rights

Since the only form of marriage recognized in Honduras is civil marriage, the rights that are available to couples are strictly regulated by the law of the country, irrespective of the different customs and traditions. There are certain rights that are made available to citizens by the virtue of marriage, such as participating in politics and government without any limitations or restrictions. There are certain government offices that require the candidates who wish to be in such positions to be married before they can fill such offices. They both have the right to perform their matrimonial duties, such as ensuring the protection of one another and the right to honor and respect for one's dignity. 

Exercising parental authority and performing the role of a legal guardian is one of the rights available to married couples. Spouses get to decide how many children they wish to have and whether or not they want children. They also have the right to adopt, a right that is not available to people of the same sex. If either the husband or wife is a foreigner, the Honduran citizen has the right to confer his or her nationality on the children of the marriage; they also have the right to revoke it if they want. The right to dissolve marriage through divorce is a right that is available to couples. 

Once it is determined that the marriage can no longer be saved, the husband and wife can decide to mutually file for divorce due to certain reasons such as infidelity, domestic violence, or instability. At the dissolution of marriage, both the husband and wife have the right to gain custody of the children, and the parent that can best cater to their needs is granted custody. Both the husband and wife have the right to work and are paid equally for their efforts. In cases of emergencies or medical situations, couples have the right to make important health decisions on behalf of one another.

Costs

Contracting a civil marriage in Honduras is relatively affordable; couples only need to be concerned with providing 350 lempira for the marriage service fee, which must be paid to the treasury department of the couple's municipality. An extra 10 lempira is paid after filling out the marriage application form, and that's about it. However, hosting a wedding reception is more expensive than just going to a court wedding. 

Honduras has become one of the most popular places to visit for a destination wedding because of the beautiful scenery. An average wedding resort costs from $28 to at least $200, depending on the location and the number of guests. Couples often hire the services of a wedding planner to ease the burden of putting together a wedding budget. The average cost of a hotel room is estimated to be around 50 lempiras—as much as 326 lempiras. 

The cost of wedding attire for the couples is determined by how much they are willing to spend or whether they would like to rent. A wedding ceremony with at least 30 guests would cost around $3,900, excluding the food and beverages of the guests invited. For about 32 to 100 guests, couples should expect to spend around $5,900, while for about 100 to 20 guests, an average of $8,900 would be spent.

Duties

The husband and wife have duties they have to perform for the proper management of the home. The family is seen as the nucleus of what has to be done for the proper management of the home. The family is seen as the nucleus of society; therefore, the husband and wife are obligated to ensure that the family is together. The structure of the Honduran family is largely patriarchal. However, the duties in the home are equally split between the couple; while the wife is responsible for the domestic housework, the husband can also be involved by providing support and assistance when necessary. 

The husband is responsible for the provision of basic amenities for the welfare of the family, but this role is played by both the husband and wife; they both have a duty to contribute to the wellbeing of the family. Both parents have a duty to provide a conducive environment for the growth and development of the children. The educational background and moral upbringing of the children are among the major duties of the husband and wife. The duty of the couple is to themselves first; they both have to live together, love one another, respect one another, and provide mutual assistance in the management and smooth running of the family.

Conclusion  

Honduras allows legal marriages to be performed in the country as well as in other countries abroad. Honduran nationals may conduct marriages at the embassy or consulate of Honduras in the foreign country where they are, especially when they are out of the country on a temporary basis. However, the process of getting married outside the country may require the submission of several other documents beyond those of typical civil marriages in the country.

Some of the top wedding locations in Honduras include the Terramaya Boutique Hotel, Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort, and Grand Roatán Caribbean Resort. A lot of times, young spouses start living together and declare themselves to be in free unions. After they get older, they then perform a civil marriage to legalize their union and give them marriage entitlements. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriage in Honduras.

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