Everything you need to know about marriage in Liechtenstein

14 Jul 2023·21 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Liechtenstein 01

Liechtenstein is a European country famous for its alpine landscapes and medieval castles. The country is one of the wealthiest in the world, and marriages are often celebrated in grand style. Every year, both Liechtensteiners and foreign spouses marry in the country, and the process of contracting a marriage is simple. The types of marriages performed in Liechtenstein are civil, religious, traditional, and symbolic weddings. Furthermore, civil marriages are the only types of marriages that have legal grounds in the country. Once a marriage license and certificate are obtained by spouses, they are recognized by law as a married couple and are free to conduct any other kind of marriage they desire. 

Even though religious marriages are not legally binding or recognized in Liechtenstein, they are still performed by most spouses. All different types of marriages are performed in different ways, and they have their own unique customs and traditions that set them apart from others. Liechtensteiners are German people native to the country, and there are a lot of similarities with Germany in how marriages are performed as well as their rites and traditions. In Liechtenstein, the legal marriage age is 18 years old for both male and female spouses. The minimum marriage age law applies to both foreigners and Liechtenstein nationals. 

Under special circumstances, 16- and 17-year-old spouses may be allowed to marry in the country, but they are required to provide parental consent. The average age at which Liechtensteiners get married has increased over the years. For both males and females, this age has shifted from the mid-20s to the late 20s or early 30s, and the pursuit of education is one of the major reasons for this. More Liechtensteiners are spending more years in school to get great jobs, and this has resulted in the marriage age being shifted on a general scale. Continue reading to find out more about marriage in Liechtenstein.

Civil marriages 

In Liechtenstein, a civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is legally binding. This type of marriage is performed by an authorized registrar and takes place in the civil registry. The registry where the marriage will take place must be one in the area or municipality where either or both spouses reside. For a couple to be legally and officially married in Liechtenstein, they are required to obtain a marriage certificate. Even spouses who wish to perform other types of marriages may be required by the religious body to present the marriage certificate before the wedding is allowed to take place. Foreign spouses are often required to provide some additional documents, which may not be requested from native Liechtensteiners. People from other countries who plan a marriage in Liechtenstein must be able to show evidence that they are eligible for marriage. 

A person who is prohibited from getting married in their home country for one reason or another is not allowed to perform a marriage in Liechtenstein. A single status certificate must also be provided by foreign spouses. This vital document will show that such a spouse is single and eligible for marriage. Spouses who are still in marriages that have not been legally dissolved are not allowed to get married. Therefore, separation alone does not count. A divorce certificate must be obtained and presented to the marriage officer in Liechtenstein. There is often a waiting period after the submission of documents before spouses are allowed to invest their management certificate. This period often lasts for up to two weeks. As stated earlier in this article, both male and female spouses must be at least 18 years old. 

The spouses getting married must not be related to each other or their witnesses. Witnesses provided must be of legal age and capacity. Generally, there are no strict residency requirements for foreign spouses who want to conduct marriages in Liechtenstein. Even though most registrars may not request a medical certificate, it's important for spouses to obtain one. There are important medical examinations that should be carried out before the marriage is concluded. This is to ensure both spouses are compatible with each other and cannot jeopardize their respective health or that of their future offspring. After the completion of the marriage application, the registrar will make an official publication of the notice of marriage. 

Following publication, the couple must wait while the registrar investigates whether anyone or anything will raise objections to such a marriage. If no issues arise during the stipulated time frame, the marriage progresses as scheduled. The official language of Liechtenstein is German, and all the documents submitted must be in this language. Foreign spouses who obtain documents from their home country or the embassy of their home country in Liechtenstein must have their documents translated into German by an accredited translator. The documents must be legalized with an apostille before they are submitted. These documents are stated below.

Documents Required

  • A valid means of identification. Liechtenstein nationals may provide a national ID card, while foreign spouses may provide a valid passport.
  • Both partners must provide valid copies of their birth certificates showing their current names and those of their parents.
  • Certificate of single status. This document must be submitted by foreign spouses as evidence that they were single at the time of contracting the marriage.
  • The couple is required to submit a written request for the marriage certificate.
  • Both spouses must provide receipts of the electronic payment of all relevant fees.
  • Death or divorce certificate. This applies to separated and widowed spouses, and either of the papers must be provided during registration.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are common in Liechtenstein, but they have no legal grounds. To ensure the legal validity of a religious marriage, spouses must first perform a civil marriage. Over 80 percent of the total population of the country is Christian, and most marriages are performed in the church, with the Roman Catholic Church being the largest church denomination. 

Religious marriages are important to Liechtensteiners, and in some families, spouses will not be recognized as being officially married if a religious marriage is not performed. These weddings are frequently held in the morning on weekends. After the church service, it is customary for the newlyweds, their family and friends, as well as other guests, to proceed to another venue where the wedding reception will take place.

Registered Partnerships 

Registered partnerships are recognized in Liechtenstein. This type of marriage is performed by same-sex couples, and it must be registered at the Principality of Liechtenstein. The civil status office where the spouses wish to get married will provide them with the exact documents that must be submitted before the union is allowed. 

The required documents must be submitted within a period of six months and not later than three weeks before the date of entry into the partnership. Some of the documents that must be submitted by spouses include their birth certificates, the original partnership certificate, and valid means of identification.

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Marriage traditions in Liechtenstein

Rope Tying 

This is a marriage ritual that is common at church weddings in Liechtenstein. Here, three pieces of rope are tied together around the wrists of spouses in a way that is difficult to loosen. This is meant to symbolize that both partners have become one.

Wedding Dress 

Liechtenstein weddings are often very colorful, and the wedding dresses are no exception. Like in most other countries, the bride wears a white wedding dress with or without a veil. This dress is meant to signify that the bride is pure of heart.

Handing off the bride

The processional often begins the church wedding ceremony, and the groom and his best man are usually the first to enter. The bride and her father are the last to walk down the aisle, and she is handed off to her husband-to-be by her father as a way of passing his responsibilities over to the groom.

Same-sex marriages

Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Liechtenstein; however, same-sex couples' relationships are recognized in a registered partnership. Homosexuality and same-sex sexual activities have been legal in the country since as far back as 1989. Registered couples enjoy some of the rights and benefits of opposite-sex marriages.

Polygamous marriages 

Under the laws of Liechtenstein, all marriages must be monogamous. Monogamy is the only form of marriage allowed, and a man is not allowed to marry more than one wife at a time, likewise a woman. Cases of polygamous marriages in the country are very rare and not prevalent even in rural communities.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

When getting married in Liechtenstein, couples are required to obey the laws of marriage before they are legally allowed to start a new family. There are different steps, rules, and regulations that have to be fulfilled, such as the legal age for marriage. Before marriage is allowed to take place, the intending couples must declare that they are both of marriageable age, which is set at 18 according to the law. If either of the couples is younger than 18, they may not be allowed to contract marriage except in extreme circumstances where marriage between minors is permitted provided, they can obtain parental consent. The legal age for marriage applies not only to nationals; it equally applies to foreigners. 

According to the law, all forms of marital unions are allowed in the country; religious marriages, traditional marriages, civil marriages, and symbolic marriages are all allowed to be conducted in Liechtenstein, but the only form of marital union that is recognized to have any legal value is a civil marriage; for any marriage to be considered legal, it has to be conducted civilly by a civil registrar at the civil registry, and after the marriage certificate has been obtained, the couple can decide to have any other form of marriage celebration they wish to have. However, despite the fact that religious marriages are not legally recognized by the law, a lot of couples still perform them. 

Before marriage can take place, the groom and bride must be single (unmarried, divorced, or widowed); they must not be in any legally binding relationship at the time of marriage as the act of bigamy is against the law. Foreigners are allowed to contract marriage in Liechtenstein, provided they are eligible for marriage in their home country and there's no legal impediment to marriage; this also applies to citizens of Liechtenstein. Same-sex marriages are not permitted in Liechtenstein. 

However, same-sex couples can carry out their activities in a recognized registered partnership, which grants same-sex couples some of the benefits of opposite-sex marriages. Marriage in Liechtenstein must be monogamous; both the groom and bride are not allowed to practice polygamy. If either of the spouses has been married in the past, they are required to present an original certificate of divorce or a certificate of death of the deceased spouse to prove that such a marriage has been dissolved.

Rights

The groom and bride have the same rights in marriage as anyone else in the world. They both have the right to be married, provided they have reached the legal age for marriage. The law states that the groom and bride have the right to decide on the number of children they wish to have, procreate, and raise the children according to the various religious and moral beliefs of the couple. Couples have the right to work and earn equal payment for that work; they are entitled to fair treatment in all places, including the workplace. Any form of discrimination against couples due to their marital status is prohibited. 

The husband and wife have the right to be recognized as the legal guardians of the children, and when the need arises, they are also granted the right to exercise parental authority. In cases of emergency or on official business, the husband and wife have the right to appoint themselves as each other's next of kin. The husband and wife have the right to contract divorce; however, the husband and wife have to come to an agreement before divorce can be finalized, and in the case that the couple does not come to a mutual agreement, the law stipulates that a waiting period of three years should be given to the couple before the divorce is finalized. The law demands equal requirements to finalize divorce from the groom as well as the bride. 

After divorce has been finalized, the husband and wife also have equal rights to receive custody of the children, and they both enjoy visitation rights; however, before custody is conferred, the interests of the children are put into consideration, and the parent that best represents the children's interests is granted custody. They both have the right to own, use, and dispose of property as they wish. They can decide to own property together under a joint community of property or individually under a separate community of property.

Costs

Getting married in Liechtenstein is relatively affordable; it all depends on the goals of the couple and their willingness to spend on the ceremony. The average cost of hosting a wedding in Liechtenstein starts at around 3,000 euros for at least 25 people, which includes the cost of the formal ceremony and the reception. If couples are expecting at least 50–100 guests, they should expect to spend around 5,000–7,000 euros, which includes the rental of the venue. 

But this is not the total cost of a wedding in Liechtenstein, as there are many other costs, such as the cost of the flowers and decorations, which depends on the decorator chosen by the couple or the wedding planner, the cost of music and entertainment at the event, the cost of transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses, etc. 

The average cost of flowers at the ceremony is around 50–200 euros, excluding the cost of the bouquet of flowers for the bride and her bridesmaids. The cost of catering the food and drink for the guests costs at least 30 euros per person; therefore, the total cost of food and drink for 25 people is estimated to be around 750 euros or more, depending on the total number of invited guests.

Duties

Before marriage is allowed to take place, the husband and wife are educated on their various roles, duties, and responsibilities in the home, as well as their part in ensuring the family is together as a whole and is the foundation of society. The husband and wife have various duties to perform, but the roles are all intertwined. 

The couple is responsible for the financial and non-financial wellbeing of the family; they have to ensure that the needs of the members of the family, both young and old, physical or emotional, are met according to their means. They are responsible for shouldering family expenses, jointly contributing to the health and comfort of the family, and also ensuring that the children have a good environment to develop and grow into upstanding citizens of the country. 

They also have to ensure that the children have a good moral and educational background. Spouses have a duty to one another; they have to be committed to the marriage, respect one another, provide mutual support and assistance at all times, respect each other's opinions and beliefs, and also communicate properly with one another without the use of force or violence.

Conclusion 

Getting married in Liechtenstein is straightforward, and after a waiting period of about two weeks, couples will be able to obtain a marriage certificate. There are different ways to get married in the country, and after a civil ceremony is completed, spouses have the freedom to perform any other type of marriage.

In Liechtenstein, marriage is the only act that gives legal recognition to couples in the formation of a family. Spouses who are related to each other are also not allowed to marry in the country. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Liechtenstein.

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