Everything you need to know about marriage in Micronesia

1 Sep 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Micronesia 01

Micronesia, officially the Federated States of Micronesia, is a country in Oceania. The country is an archipelago popular for its ancient ruins, palm-shaded beaches, and stunning landscapes. Both foreigners and Micronesian nationals are allowed to perform marriages in the country. In Micronesia, couples are allowed to perform civil, religious, traditional, and symbolic marriages. Only civil marriages hold legal grounds in the country. Religious and traditional marriages are not legally binding unless they are also registered with the government. In order for a marriage to be recognized as legal, the couple must obtain a marriage license and have a ceremony performed by a government-authorized official, such as a judge or registrar. 

Arranged marriages were traditionally practiced in some communities in Micronesia. The parents or elders of the couple would arrange the marriage, often with the goal of strengthening family ties or alliances. However, the practice of arranged marriage has been declining in recent years as more young people in Micronesia choose to marry based on love and personal choice rather than family tradition. Today, arranged marriages are less common and are not as widely accepted as they once were in Micronesia. Micronesia is a tropical paradise that offers a variety of beautiful and exotic locations for destination weddings. Couples from all over the world come to Micronesia to get married on its white sandy beaches, lush tropical gardens, and stunning coral reefs. 

Marriage is considered an important institution in Micronesia. Marriage is traditionally seen as a way to strengthen family ties and create new relationships, and it is often associated with the formation of a new household and the start of a new life stage. Foreign spouses who have already performed the civil registration of the marriage in their home country often perform symbolic weddings. This gives them room to perform the ceremony based on their own terms and preferences. The rest of the article will touch on the popular marriage traditions in Micronesia.

Civil marriages 

Civil marriages are legally recognized and protected by law in Micronesia. These marriages are conducted at the civil registry or city hall by authorized marriage registrars. To begin the marriage application and registration process, both partners will be required to visit the civil registry in the municipality or district where they reside to make an official declaration of their intention to marry. During the declaration, both partners must provide verbal and written consent that they give their free will and consent to marry. The registrar will then provide a marriage application form, which must be filled out by both spouses. The registrar will also inform the partners of the documents that they will be required to submit after asking some routine questions. 

The documents to be submitted may vary depending on the legal and marital status of partners. Also, foreign Spouses generally have to submit some extra documents to reinforce their legal validity in the country. The legal marriage age of 18 in Micronesia must have been reached by both spouses. This also applies to foreign spouses; if the marriage age in their home country is below that of Micronesia, they may not be allowed to marry. In exceptional cases, male and female spouses aged 16 may be allowed to marry; however, they will be required to provide written parental consent. Both spouses must submit some documents, such as photo ID and birth certificates, proving their identities. 

Spouses who were previously married and wish to contract a monogamous marriage must submit copies of their death or divorce certificate, whichever applies. Spouses will also be required to provide valid witnesses who have reached the age of 18. The witnesses provided must not be related to the spouses by blood. The official language of Micronesia is English; therefore, foreign spouses must ensure their documents are submitted in this language. They must also be notarized and apostilled as needed. After all the documents are submitted, the registrar will have to confirm them to ensure all the information checks out. If all the documents are confirmed, the registration process will then proceed. 

Generally, a civil marriage must be performed by spouses who wish to use their marriage certificate in other foreign countries. There are generally no medical requirements to get married in Micronesia, but it will be better to carry out necessary blood tests before the marriage procedures are completed. Couples must ensure they have no underlying health issues or mental conditions that may prevent them from making the right decisions. There is usually a waiting period of two or three days after the license is obtained before the marriage ceremony is allowed to take place. The documents both spouses must submit are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification, such as a Micronesian national ID card or a valid passport
  • Both partners must provide certified copies of their birth certificates with their names as they are currently addressed and those of their parents.
  • Proof of address may be required from foreign spouses.
  • Spouses under the age of 18 must provide written parental or guardian consent.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Separated or widowed spouses will be required to provide either of these documents as evidence that their previous marriage was legally terminated.
  • Deed poll. This must be submitted by spouses who previously changed their names prior to the marriage.

Religious marriages 

Most marriages in Micronesia are performed in the church. Christianity is the predominant religion in the country, and the majority of the citizens are evenly divided between Catholicism and Protestantism, with about 97 percent of the total population. The remaining 3 percent includes those practicing folk religions, atheists, or Micronesians with no religious affiliations. Church marriages usually involve various ceremonial rites, and they are typically held in the morning. 

Due to the large number of people getting married in the church yearly, couples may be required to book the church weeks or months in advance of their scheduled wedding date. To begin the marriage process in the church, the couple will often make a marriage announcement to the whole congregation of their intention to marry. Both partners may be required to submit certain documents, like baptismal and holy communion certificates, before the marriage takes place in the church. All church marriages must be properly registered and performed by an authorized priest or pastor.

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Marriage traditions in Micronesia

Engagement ceremony 

Before the official marriage ceremony, it is customary for the families of the bride and groom to meet and get to know each other better. During this time, the major marriage preparations, such as outfits, invitees, etc., are decided upon.

Gold rings

During Micronesian church weddings, there is a ceremonial rite that involves gold rings. Here, the priest blesses a set of 13 gold rings and presents them to the groom, who then gives them to his bride. This represents his trust in his future wife and his material possessions.

Wedding reception

In Micronesia, wedding receptions usually involve a large number of guests. There are often enough drinks and foods to go around. Traditional music is also played, and the maid of honor and best man may give speeches and toasts to the newlyweds. Micronesian wedding receptions usually last for several hours.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages are not allowed in Micronesia. There is no recognition of same-sex couples, and partners of the same sex are not allowed to enter into unions or marriages with each other. Households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. There is discrimination protection based on sexual orientation, and homosexuals are allowed to perform same-sex sexual activities.

Polygamous marriages 

Micronesian marriages are monogamous. Polygamous marriages are neither popular nor permitted in the country. Most Micronesians are Christians, and marriage with multiple spouses is not allowed under the principles of this religious belief. In the past, polygamous marriages used to be performed in some regions. However, cases of polygamy in the country are now quite rare.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

According to the laws of the federated state of Micronesia, marriage must only be conducted between two people who are eligible. They must have reached the minimum legal age for marriage. The groom must be at least 18 years old, and the bride must also be at least 16 years old to be able to contract marriage. In the case where the bride is younger than the age of 18, parental consent is required. She must be able to provide her parents' permission or, in their absence, obtain a legal guardian's permission. In Micronesia, the groom and bride must ensure that there is no legal impediment to marriage. They must not be in any existing marriage while trying to contract a new marriage agreement. According to the law, they must be single, either widowed, divorced, or unmarried. 

If one of the couples is divorced, he or she is required to submit a copy of the original divorce certificate proving his or her current marital status. The same applies in the case of widowhood, where the concerned party is required to submit the marriage and death certificates of the former spouse. The marriage must be conducted by a legally authorized person; this could be a judge, an ordained minister, or the governor. The marriage must be conducted in the presence of at least two witnesses. The witnesses must be at least 18 years of age and have valid identification documents. Before the marriage can take place, the groom and bride must have filed an application that states their intent to get married and submitted it to the civil registry. After the application has been submitted, the couple is required to wait for a certain period of time before obtaining the marriage license. 

After the marriage license has been obtained, the couple is then permitted to contract marriage in Micronesia. This also applies to marriages between non-citizens and marriages between a citizen and a non-citizen. Any non-citizen who wishes to be married in Micronesia must be eligible for marriage in his or her home country before marriage can be allowed to take place in Micronesia. In the Federated States of Micronesia, same-sex marriages and civil unions for cohabiting couples are not allowed. Same-sex activities have legal status in the country, but there is no legal recognition for marriage. The groom and bride must not be related in any way. They are also not permitted to marry within their immediate and extended families, as that is considered incestuous.

Rights

Couples should not only be aware of the laws of marriage in Micronesia; they should also be aware of the marriage rights made available to them by the constitution of the country. One of the rights of married couples in Micronesia is the right to reproduce, raise the children according to the moral and religious inclinations of the family, and receive support and assistance from the government in raising them. The groom and bride have the right to legal guardianship of the children as well as the right to exercise parental authority. The husband and wife have equal property rights. 

The wife has the same right as her husband to own, use, and manage property as they wish. They have the right to choose a marital regime of property that would decide how property is distributed in the home. The husband and wife have the right to sign a prenuptial agreement at the time of marriage. This protects the property of both parties in the event of a separation or divorce. When it comes to divorce, both the husband and wife have the same right to file for divorce or marriage annulment. Married couples, like all other citizens, have the right to fundamental rights. rights such as the right to work, freedom of speech, freedom of movement and expression, etc. 

The husband and wife have equal citizenship rights. They have the right to change, retain, and acquire citizenship without any limitations. Both the husband and wife have the same right to confer citizenship on their foreign spouses. Another important right for couples is the right to fair treatment and respect for one another in marriage. The husband and wife have the right to privacy and family life. The wife has the same right as her husband to participate in economic and financial activities outside the home. They both have the right to make investments, obtain credits, etc.

Costs

There are various factors that have to be taken into consideration when deciding the total cost of marriage in Micronesia. The cost of hotel accommodations; the cost of the wedding venue; the cost of catering services; etc. In Micronesia, it costs an average of $89–135 per night to rent a hotel room. The cost is determined by the location of the hotel, the reputation of the hotel, etc. The average wedding venue costs between $500 and $1,500. 

The preferences of the couple, the size of the wedding, and the number of invited guests all contribute to the cost of getting married in Micronesia. Couples should expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 on the wedding ceremony. Couples who wish to have a small, intimate ceremony could just have a civil ceremony, where they would be asked to pay a fee of $2 to the state registry for the submission of their marriage application. They would also be required to pay the fees of the marriage officiant, which are often very affordable as well.

Duties

In Micronesia, men and women play complementary roles in carrying out their duties and responsibilities in the household. They both have equal authority in the home. Any decision concerning the welfare of the family is made jointly by the husband and wife. Women have as much power as men in the home and in society as a whole. 

They are both responsible for the welfare and well-being of the family. They have a duty to ensure that the family is provided with basic amenities such as food, clothing, and shelter. They are obligated to care for and cater to the needs of the children. However, this must be done within their means. The husband and wife have a duty to love one another, protect the family, respect each other's opinions and beliefs, and ensure that they are both committed to the marriage.

Final Thoughts 

Micronesia is a culturally diverse country, and marriages are performed in different ways based on the traditions and churches of the couples. There are various locations available to both Micronesians and foreign couples who wish to get married. Popular wedding destinations in Micronesia include the islands of Guam, Saipan, and Palau.

These islands offer a range of wedding venues, from luxury resorts to more intimate beachfront settings. Many resorts and hotels in Micronesia offer wedding packages that include everything from the wedding ceremony to the reception and can also provide help with legal requirements and paperwork. Therefore, before foreign couples arrive in the country, they may begin the preparations and registration process with their chosen marriage planner. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Micronesia.

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