Everything you need to know about marriage in Mongolia

21 Jun 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Mongolia 01

Mongolia is an East Asian country popular for its stunning nature, landscapes, and natural attractions. Every year, about 18,000 marriages are performed in Mongolia by citizens of the country and foreigners from other Asian countries abroad. Weddings in Mongolia are some of the most important events in the lives of couples. Extended family and friends used to perform marriages among themselves, especially in rural regions and communities. In the past, marriages used to be performed between spouses who were 13 or 14 years old. Most times, spouses are required to get engaged for a certain period of time, during which they live together and their compatibilities are tested. 

Generally, the bride and groom live with their in-laws, who observe their activities as a couple and ensure they are treating each other well before proceeding with the marriage. However, most of the marriage traditions of the past have changed, and arranged marriages are no longer common. Spouses now marry for love, where they undergo a courtship process before deciding to get engaged and eventually marry in the country. Generally, Mongolian marriages are monogamous. Marriage is intended to be a union of a single man and woman. Civil and traditional or religious marriages are the most commonly performed marriages in the country; however, only civil marriages have legal standing. 

Before contracting other forms of marriage, both spouses are required to have observed a civil marriage registration and obtained a marriage license and certificate. The legal marriage age in the country is 18 years for both foreign and Mongolian male and female spouses. Spouses are not allowed to perform marriages if they have not attained this age, except under special or serious circumstances. A person between the ages of 16 and 18 may contract a marriage if there is a provision for parental consent. The remainder of this article will go over marriage in Mongolia in greater detail.

Civil marriages 

A civil marriage performed in Mongolia is legally binding in the country and any other foreign country in the world. Civil marriages are officiated by state-authorized marriage officers or registrars, and they take place in the office of the registrar or the civil registry. As stated earlier, Mongolian marriages are monogamous. A civil registrar will never contract a marriage for a spouse who is currently in another marriage. A foreign spouse may be required to provide a certificate of no impediment to marriage in Mongolia. In the absence of this required document, an affidavit of marital status may be performed. However, this must be done in the presence of a judge and legal witnesses. 

The purpose of the document is to show that such a spouse is facing no legal issues that may prohibit the marriage. Generally, the registrar makes a publication notifying the general public that the marriage is coming up. In some cases, the publication may be pasted on a notice board at the civil registry or the front of the office of the marriage registrar. Others may make a newspaper publication that is easily accessible to the general public. After the publication, there is a waiting period during which the registrar verifies if the spouses are truly eligible for marriage and are facing no obstructions to the marriage from any factor. 

If, in any case, there are no issues with the documents submitted, the registrar may go ahead and issue a marriage certificate to the spouses, which must be signed by them and their witnesses. Spouses who are related to each other are not allowed to get married in Mongolia. If this type of marriage is performed, it may lead to legal consequences and the eventual annulment of the marriage. Other types of unions that may result in the annulment and invalidity of marriages include marriages between two people where either one or both are still married, forced marriages where either one or both spouses do not give their free consent, and child marriages, where a person below the legal marriage age (16 years with parental consent) gets married. 

All of the above are some of the most important conditions that must be met by spouses before they are allowed to marry in Mongolia. Documents obtained from other foreign countries must be translated by the translation bureau into the official language of Mongolia, and these documents must also include an apostille to prove their legitimacy. The documents that are required of spouses are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • Both spouses must submit valid copies of their ID cards or passports.
  • Application for marriage validation
  • Health records that must have been obtained recently This includes tests for STDs, HIV, tuberculosis, and psychiatry.
  • Divorce or death certificate. This is referred to as an "affidavit of a spouse's marital status," and either of them must be provided to show that a previous marriage was legally terminated.
  • A criminal record may be required from concerned authorities in a foreign partner's home country. This must be translated into Mongolian by the translation bureau.
  • Foreign partners must obtain a reference letter from the immigration office in relation to their current marital status in Mongolia.
  • Both spouses are required to provide one copy of their passport photos.
  • Reference letter from the local housing office of the governor.
  • Proof of funds and resources. This may also be required in the form of evidence that one is employed to show they can support a spouse and perform a marriage ceremony in the country. Some of the evidence includes employment letters, real estate certificates, bank statements, etc.

Traditional marriages 

Traditional marriages are quite common in Mongolia. There are various elements that are incorporated into religious and traditional wedding ceremonies in this country. Different ethnicities have their own unique ways of bringing people together to celebrate the newlyweds in a wedding ceremony. In the past, traditional marriages used to strictly involve only marriage customs that were introduced in the country, but now, modern times have changed things. A lot of traditional marriages are now infused with the contemporary and modern marriage traditions of the western world. 

The outfits that are worn by the bride and groom are often colorful and elegantly designed with various ornaments. No wedding ceremony in Mongolia is complete without one or more photographers constantly taking pictures of the guests with a focus on the newlyweds to capture beautiful moments. About 87 percent of the total population of Mongolians identify as Buddhists, with the others identifying as Muslims, Christians, Shamanists, etc. Buddhists do not view marriage as a religious act but as a secular one. Due to the large number of Buddhists in the country, the number of people practicing religious and traditional marriages is greatly reduced.

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Marriage traditions in Mongolia

Departure 

On the morning of the wedding, it is customary for the bride to leave her family’s house to join her husband in his house and officially start a home together. This is usually an emotional moment that may lead to tears from the mother and daughter. The bride's mother may visit the bride two to three days after the wedding.

Beseeching 

This ceremonial rite refers to the engagement ceremony that is performed before the actual marriage ceremony. Here, the groom and his family often go to the bride's family house to make a marriage proposal and also present various gift items. Gifts may be exchanged between both parties after the bride's family approves and marriage preparations begin, which can take months.

Arrival competition 

This is an ancient marriage tradition that is still performed in Mongolian weddings, especially those in rural areas. Here, the bride and groom often compete based on who will get to the wedding venue first. Horse carriages may be used, and different traditions like the groom preparing a feast for the bride and her family may slow down the bride and prevent her from being victorious in the competition. This ritual is typically performed for the fun it brings.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages in Mongolia have been constitutionally banned since 1992. In the mid-90s, homosexuality used to be criminalized; however, this was later changed, and homosexuality currently holds a legal status in Mongolia. However, same-sex couples are not allowed to start families, get married, or even enjoy the marriage rights and benefits available to opposite-sex couples.

Polygamous marriages

Polygamy is not legally recognized in Mongolia. A man is only allowed to have one woman as his wife, and vice versa. Those who practice polygamy may face legal consequences in court; however, most of these consequences are not enforced. It is quite rare to see couples in Mongolia who are actively involved in a polygamous marriage.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Across the world, no one can enter into a marriage agreement without obeying the laws and regulations guiding the act of marriage. Therefore, couples are required to have a proper understanding of these laws before entering marriage. According to the Mongolian civil code and the family code, in Mongolia the minimum legal age for marriage is set at 18 years for both males and females. Anyone who meets this requirement is permitted to enter into a marriage contract in the country. All marriages must be contracted with the consent of the bride and groom, as there is so much importance attached to it. Minors who wish to contract marriage must provide parental consent, and they must have been granted the right to contract marriage by a civil court before marriage can be allowed to take place. 

Forced marriages are against the law in Mongolia, and anyone who allows the marriage of a minor female without receiving proper consent and permission from the concerned authorities is liable to face punishment. Both couples must be mentally, physically, and emotionally stable to be able to contract marriage. If it is perceived that one of the couples is not in the right frame of mind to get married, the marriage would not be allowed to take place. Same-sex partnerships or unions are not recognized under the law of the country; homosexual couples are not allowed to contract marriage in Mongolia; if such a marriage has been contracted outside the country, it would be recognized in Mongolia. 

Civil marriages, traditional marriages, and religious marriages are legally recognized in Mongolia and must be registered at the civil registry. Foreigners are permitted to marry in Mongolia; they may contract a civil marriage; however, if they wish to have a traditional marriage, they must do so after the civil marriage has been performed. Foreigners who wish to marry in Mongolia must be eligible for marriage in their various home countries. Intending couples must be single at the time of marriage and not be in any other existing marriage. 

If either of the couples has been previously married, they must present proof that such a marriage has been dissolved by submitting a certificate of divorce or death to the appropriate authorities. Persons who are not officially married but wish to be recognized as husband and wife by contracting a civil union are permitted to do so in Mongolia, but registration of such unions is not allowed under the law. Polygamy is against the law of marriage in the country; men are not allowed to marry more than one wife at the same time.

Rights

The rights of the husband and wife in marriage are considered equal in the eyes of the law in Mongolia. Like many countries in the world, couples have the right to procreate and to indicate the number of children they wish to have, as well as the right to decide on the type of moral or religious upbringing that is best for the children. Both the husband and wife have the right to decide on the residence of the family; they are both involved in the decision-making process of the family. 

They both have the right to freedom of movement; the right to move around is not dependent on the permission given by the husband or wife. They have the right to be actively involved in any form of political or socioeconomic activity without any restrictions or limitations. They are both entitled to the right to divorce. When a marriage fails, the couple has the right to divorce based on mutual consent or on specific grounds specified by one of the couple. After the divorce has been finalized, the couple has equal rights to the custody and visitation rights of the children, which will be decided by the court. 

They are both entitled to equal inheritance rights; a female surviving spouse has the same rights as a male surviving spouse to inherit the property of the deceased spouse. They both have the right to change the family common name to either the family name of the husband or the wife. Spouses have the right to own property individually and separately, depending on the marital regime of property agreed upon at the time of marriage.

Costs

The average cost of marriage in Mongolia is determined by many factors, such as the number of invited guests, what the couple hopes to achieve, and the couple's financial ability. The total cost of a wedding in Mongolia is estimated to be around $15,000–$30,000 due to the various ceremonies that have to be celebrated even before the actual wedding. Couples can hire the services of a wedding planner, which would definitely come at a cost of around 759,000 MNT, or approximately $200-$300; the prices vary from one wedding planner to another. 

The average cost stated above covers costs for food and drinks at the event, the decorations, including flower and car decorations, photography and videography at the event, music and entertainment, and a family tree book. There is no fixed cost for a wedding in Mongolia, as the type of ceremony the couple wants goes a long way in determining how deeply the celebration would eat into the couple's pockets. A civil ceremony, which would cost certain fees, can be held with an inexpensive or extravagant reception depending on the choices of the couple, or a traditional ceremony can be held, after which the marriage would be registered.

Duties

The duties and responsibilities of the husband and wife in a typical Mongolian household are based on gender roles; however, the couple has a duty to provide mutual support and assistance to one another while performing their respective duties in the home. The wife is obligated to be in charge of the welfare of the family; her role in the home is spelled out in society; she is seen as the domestic worker and the primary caregiver. They are generally responsible for the proper management of all resources in the home. 

The husband and wife have a duty to provide for the needs of the family; this role is supposed to be the sole responsibility of the husband, but many wives also shoulder this responsibility and help out by contributing to the wellbeing of the famous according to their means. The husband and wife have a duty to be committed to the marriage; they must ensure that all the children in the home are treated equally and are provided with all the basic amenities needed for growth and development.

Final Thoughts 

Mongolian weddings are important events in the lives of couples and families in the country. All marriages recognized under the laws of the country are monogamous. In ancient times, arranged marriages used to be the norm, but a lot of Mongolian spouses now marry for love between themselves and other foreigners.

Most Mongolians like to keep marriages between people they are familiar with. This has led to coworkers or members of the same community getting married as a way of strengthening the existing bond they have. This article includes everything you need to know about marriages in Mongolia.

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