Everything you need to know about marriage in Montenegro

17 Jul 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Montenegro 01

Over 3,000 marriages are performed every year in Montenegro. Montenegro is a Balkan country famous for its mountainous hinterland, which is dotted with deep canyons, primeval forests, and gushing rivers. Both foreigners and Montenegrin nationals are allowed to perform marriages in Montenegro. There are different ways through which marriages are performed in the country, and couples can either get married through a civil, religious, traditional, or symbolic wedding ceremony. The only type of marriage that is legally binding in the country is a civil marriage. Other types of marriages are permitted, but they have no legal standing. Traditional marriages are still very common in Montenegrin societies. 

Traditionally, marriage used to be arranged in Montenegro. The spouse of a bride or groom was determined by their parents or other family elders. Once a man is ready to marry, his family will seek a potential bride for him from other families in the same clan. Previously, the bride and groom had little say in how the marriage was performed; however, this has changed in modern Montenegro. The consent and blessing of parents still play a huge role in how marriages are performed, but the marriage preparations or arrangements are not solely up to the parents. In ancient times, spouses used to be prepared for marriage at ages as early as 14 and 12. 

However, this led to so many forced marriages and a high level of assurance and domestic violence that young brides ended up being the victims of these circumstances. Things are different now. The legal minimum marriage age in Montenegro is 18 years for both male and female spouses. This law only allows exceptions for spouses aged 16 or 17 with parental consent. Anybody younger than the age of 16 is not allowed to perform a legal marriage in Montenegro. As you read on, you will find out more about the marriage traditions in Montenegro.

Civil marriages 

Civil marriages are the only type of marriages in Montenegro that are recognized and protected by law. This type of marriage is performed by a civil registrar in a marriage registry. This type of marriage is the most commonly performed in the country because it is the only type that has legal grounds. To get married, there are certain marriage conditions that must be met by both spouses, as well as documents they are required to submit. In Montenegro, there are no residency requirements for foreign spouses who want to perform a marriage in the country. A foreign spouse may enter Montenegro and begin their marriage application and registration procedures immediately. 

To begin the marriage application process, spouses are required to go to the civil registry in their municipality to obtain an application form and make an official declaration of their intention to marry in Montenegro. The applications must be completely filled out by both spouses before they are submitted. The marriage registrar will publish the intention of marriage of both spouses in the local newspaper and also paste it on the notice board in the registry. This procedure is carried out to ensure that there are no problems with the union and that both spouses are eligible for marriage in the country. 

The intention to marry is often made public for a few days or weeks. If nobody comes up with any information that can instruct the marriage, the registrar gives the couple the go-ahead to continue the marriage registration process. During the registration process, spouses must provide a valid form of identification. The documents must be valid and recently issued by concerned government authorities. The spouses are required to provide witnesses during the ceremony. The witnesses provided must be of legal age in the country, and they must be legally allowed to act as such. The two witnesses are required to equally provide a means of identification. Foreign spouses must provide a certificate of no impediment to marriage. 

This document will state that it is legally possible for a bride and groom to get married without facing any prohibitions or obstructions. Spouses who are related to each other by blood or adoption are not allowed to enter a legal marriage in Montenegro. Previously married spouses must be able to show evidence that their previous marriage(s) were terminated before entering into a new marriage contract. All documents obtained from foreign countries must be translated into Montenegrin before their final submission. It is possible for a civil marriage to be contracted at the embassy or consulate of Montenegro in other foreign countries. The documents that must be submitted by spouses getting married in Montenegro are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • Copy of a valid means of identification, such as a national ID card or valid passport
  • Both spouses must submit a fully completed marriage application.
  • A government-issued birth certificate or excerpts of the birth register must be provided by foreign spouses and Montenegrins who intend to marry.
  • Certificate of marital status. This document must show if a spouse is single or married, and they must have been single at the time of marriage.
  • Montenegrin spouses are required to provide a certificate of citizenship.
  • Two witnesses who are of the right legal status are to be provided.
  • Divorce or death certificates. Either of these documents must be provided by spouses who are now separated or divorced from their previous marriage.
  • Both spouses are required to submit proof of payment of all administrative fees.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages in Montenegro are officiated by a clergyman such as a priest, pastor, or imam, and both native Montenegrins and foreign spouses are allowed to conduct this type of marriage. The country is dominated by Christians, and the majority of the religious marriages are performed in accordance with the principles of Christianity. 

To get married in the church, there are certain criteria that must be met by both spouses. Generally, Christians have specific wedding ceremonial rites and customs, but each denomination may have some unique differences in the wedding procedure as well as pre-wedding processes. To begin the marriage process in the church, both spouses are required to meet with the priest or pastor. 

This is done for them select a date and time that are comfortable for both spouses for marriage. There is often a premarital mandatory class for the spouses, where they are taught the dos and don'ts of marriage and how they can be married happily. All religious marriages must be performed or officiated by a registered minister of religion.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Montenegro 02

Marriage traditions in Montenegro

A whole day

In Montenegro, wedding ceremonies are known to last for the whole day. There are often a lot of marriage rituals performed by couples and their families, and it is common for both families to organize separate ceremonies where personal guests are invited.

Multiple parades 

This is often one of the most interesting ceremonial rites at Montenegrin weddings. The groom and other close family and friends of his go to the bride's family house in a big parade. It often includes lots of music from the participants, and there is usually a flag bearer who carries the Montenegrin flag.

Large number of guests

Montenegro weddings are known to be big ceremonies. Families from both sides often invite a lot of guests and pool resources together to ensure everything goes according to plan. Most weddings have more than 100 guests, and couples make sure there is enough food and drink for everyone. In Montenegro, the more, the merrier.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages are prohibited in Montenegro. Marriage between two people of the same sex was banned by the constitution in 2007. Male and female same-sex sexual activities are allowed; however, households headed by same-sex couples do not enjoy any of the marriage benefits available to opposite-sex married couples in Montenegro.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is illegal in the Balkans, and this affects all other countries in the region. Montenegro does not allow marriages between multiple people. A man is not allowed to be married to more than one woman at a time, and this also applies to Montenegrin women. Polygamy may have legal ramifications in the country.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

The family law of Montenegro states that before marriage can take place, intending couples must be eligible for marriage in the sense that they must have reached the legal age for marriage in the country, which is set at 18 years for both males and females. While exceptions are made for minors who wish to be married, they must have attained the age of 16 and they must be able to obtain a court's permission before they can get married, which means that parental consent is not necessary. The law also implies that not only should the groom and bride be of marriageable age, but they should also be in a sound and stable state of mind before they can contract marriage.

The law does not allow marriage between persons who are not mentally or emotionally stable; if one of the couple is not in a stable state of mind, the law would not allow such a marriage to take place. According to the family law of Montenegro, spouses must give their consent to marriage; the groom and bride must be able to give their free and voluntary consent to marriage; they must not be put under any form of duress or be subjected to threats or violence, as any marriage contracted through the use of force is prohibited under the law, and anyone who allows such a marriage is liable to face serious consequences. 

In Montenegro, civil marriages are recognized under the law, and they are just conducted by a civil registrar at the civil registry in the local municipality of the couple. Other forms of marriage, such as religious marriages, traditional marriages, etc., are allowed in the country except that they do not possess any legal value. Marriage between people who are also related is illegal under the law. If the groom and bride are related as siblings, step-siblings, adopted siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, or aunts, they are not permitted to contract marriage.

According to the law, couples must submit an application for contracting marriage along with other valid documents for the couple, after which a marriage license granting the couple permission to marry in Montenegro will be issued. If one of the spouses has previously been married but the marriage was dissolved due to the death of one of the spouses or divorce, the concerned spouse is required by law to submit the original death certificate of the deceased spouse or the original decree of divorce to the civil registrar to prove the spouse's single marital status.

Rights

The family law in Montenegro ensures that both the husband and wife are recognized as equals in marriage. The husband and wife have the right to decide on the common name for the family; they can decide to close the family name of the husband or the family name of the wife, and if an agreement is not reached, they can decide to combine both names with an h and make it the common name for the family. 

By virtue of equal rights granted to the groom and bride, they can decide on the domicile residence of the family, which indicates that matters that concern the welfare and wellbeing of the family are the business of both the husband and wife. The wife has the same right as her husband to choose any career and job of her choice without any restrictions; they both have the right to receive equal payment for work done and also enjoy fair treatment at the place of work. Couples have the right to raise children because the government provides assistance and benefits to help them raise their children. 

They also get the right to train the children according to the various religious and moral beliefs of the couple. Married couples also enjoy parental rights over their children; both the husband and wife possess this right, and in the event that one of the spouses dies, the right would be transferred to the surviving spouse. Parents are not allowed to misuse this right, and it cannot be renounced. The husband and wife both have the right to actively participate in any socioeconomic and political activity without any limitations or restrictions.

Costs

The location, day, and date of the wedding determine how much a couple should spend on their civil wedding in Montenegro; couples spend anywhere from 20 euros to as much as 50 euros to contract a civil marriage. If couples decide to have the wedding at another location away from the premises of the civil registry, they will be asked to pay around 100 to 150 euros by the registrar. The average cost of a wedding in Montenegro is not only determined by the cost of hosting a civil wedding but also includes the cost of the wedding reception. 

This is determined by the number of invited guests, the goal of the couple, and how much they are willing to spend on the event. According to different surveys, it is believed that the average cost of a wedding in Montenegro is estimated to be around €5000. This cost, however, does not always include the cost of the couple's attire or the cost of photography or videography at the event.

Duties

The husband and wife have various duties to perform in marriage, which are regulated by the family law in Montenegro. Couples are obligated by law to be faithful to one another, respect one another, be committed to the family, provide mutual assistance and support for one another, respect each other’s' opinions and beliefs, and ensure that the family is together as one in harmony. 

The law also specifies the duties of the couple as regards the children in the home; due to the parental rights that the couple has over the children, they are therefore obligated to take care of and provide for the needs of the children according to their means, and not only for the children; they should jointly contribute to the welfare and wellbeing of the family. Couples also have an obligation to provide a good and conducive environment for the growth and development of their children. 

The couple has a duty to live together in a chosen residence to foster unity in the family. The husband and wife have an obligation to be available to one another at all times. The law does not specifically state that the wife should obey her husband, but the couple must respect one another to ensure that the family is functioning properly as the foundation of society.

Conclusion 

Wedding ceremonies in the Balkans involve a lot of gift-giving, and Montenegro is not left out. Couples often receive hundreds of gifts on their wedding day, and it is also common for couples to give gifts to the guests as a way of appreciating them for their presence. Arranged weddings used to be the norm in Montenegro, but this has changed over the years.

In most weddings in Montenegro, the wedding planning does not start until after the couples are engaged. Different members of the family are often engaged in the ceremonial rites of the ceremonies, which involve a lot of dancing, toasts, and singing. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriage in Montenegro.

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