Everything you need to know about marriage in Paraguay

14 May 2023·23 min to read
Articles
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Marriage ceremonies in Paraguay are highly important events that include a lot of rituals and gatherings. Over 19,000 marriages are celebrated every year in the country by Paraguayans and other foreign nationals. There are two major types of marriages that are performed in Paraguay, namely civil and religious marriages. Both marriages are generally accepted and legally binding in the country. Other forms of marriage in the country are secular and symbolic marriages, however, that hold no legal grounds. The predominant religion in Paraguay is Christianity. 

There is only a small fraction of Muslims and people of other religions in the country. Commonly, both civil and religious marriages are performed, especially by couples who may want to use their marriage certificate or status in foreign countries. A religious marriage is very necessary to Paraguayans because this type of marriage seals the union between a man, a woman, and God. The legal marriage age in the country is 18 years. Spouses who have not reached this age may be required to provide parental consent or a judge’s consent so as to get married lawfully in the country. even though both civil and religious marriages are recognized and protected by law in the country. Monogamous relationships and marriages are the only ones allowed. 

There are various unique traditions and customs that are performed by the parents of spouses who are getting married, and marriages are usually not funded by the parents of spouses. Most Paraguayan spouses would have been saving for several years prior to the marriage ceremony. Due to the number of ceremonial sites visited, a lot of expenses are incurred during the celebration. Before a marriage happens in a country, proof of marriage eligibility may be required from the spouses. Continue reading to find out more about the marriage traditions in Paraguay. Let’s get started.

Civil marriage 

Civil marriages in Paraguay are legally binding. Civil marriages in the country are officiated by a state-authorized registrar, and they take place in the registry office. Most foreigners who are getting married in Paraguay opt for this type of marriage. The process of registering a civil marriage in Paraguay can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month. To begin the marriage application process, an official notice of marriage declaration is issued by the registrar. This notice is published for a stipulated period. 

During this period, the concerned authorities are usually on the lookout to be fully aware if there are any impediments that may prevent the couple from conducting a marriage, such as health issues or previous marriages. The minimum marriage age for spouses who plan on conducting a civil marriage is 18 years. This applies to both foreign and Paraguayan males and females. Spouses who are under the age of 18 may be allowed to marry; however, parental or judicial consent must be provided. The couples are required to conduct their marriage ceremony at the civil registry located in the municipality where either both or one of them resides. The documents that must be submitted by spouses who are getting married in Paraguay are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification. Paraguayans may submit a national ID card, while a foreign spouse may submit a valid passport.
  • Proof of single status. Both partners are required to submit this document to show that they are single at the time of beginning the marriage application. This document may be issued by the registrar of authorities in foreign countries.
  • Original and copies of the birth certificate. This document must have been issued by the government, and it must carry the names of both parents.
  • Both spouses are required to provide two witnesses. These witnesses must not be blood relatives of the defendants, and they must also have the legal capacity to act as such.
  • Divorce decree or death certificate. This applies to partners who were previously married. In the case where the previous partner died, a death certificate must be provided, and separated spouses must also provide a divorce decree or certificate confirming that the marriage was lawfully dissolved.
  • Proof of residency This document may be requested from foreign spouses in the country to show that they have been living in the country prior to the marriage.

Documents that were issued by foreign countries must be translated into the official languages of Paraguay. The country is bilingual, and the official languages are Spanish and Guarani. Also, the documents must be legally notarized and apostilled to prove their originality. In cases where foreign spouses do not speak Spanish or Guarani, they may employ the assistance of an accredited interpreter during the course of the civil ceremony.

Religious marriage 

In Paraguay, religious marriages are recognized and protected under the law. Over 90% of the people living in the country are Christians. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the country, and most of the religious marriages are performed under the church’s principles. In Paraguay, there are certain requirements that must be met by spouses who are getting married in the church, and some of these conditions are similar to those of the civil marriage. Both spouses must be at least 18 years old to marry in a church. Also, before marriage is performed in the church, most churches make public announcements. 

The norm is for the couple to make an announcement of their upcoming marriage during a church service or for the church to publish it in the bulletin and also paste it on notice boards. Marriages in the church must be officiated by a registered clergyman, such as a priest or pastor, and the guidelines provided by the church must be followed by the spouses getting married. Due to the large number of marriages happening, couples usually make preparations ahead of time and book the church months before the planned wedding day. This will enable the couple to take the premarital classes and get fully prepared. 

In the Roman Catholic Church, the priest will ask the couple different questions, and their answers will determine if they are ready and eligible for marriage. There must be witnesses present during the church marriage, and the officiant has the power to cancel or postpone a marriage ceremony due to several reasons. Church marriages in Paraguay are usually held in the morning, and the actual mass usually lasts about an hour. During the ceremony, the bride and groom exchange rings and vows. The priest may allow the couple to draw up their own personalized vows. After the priest pronounces the couple husband and wife, the couple usually holds a wedding reception in another location to celebrate their marriage and entertain various guests.

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Marriage traditions in Paraguay

Trampa 

The trampa consists of large rosary beads that are worn around the necks of the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. The beads are usually arranged in a set of eight. The rosary also has the significance of bringing prosperity and blessings to the couple.

Wedding garters

It is customary for the bride to wear 20 beautiful and colorful garters under her dress for the wedding ceremony. Here, the bride wears the dress and pays homage to the elders of both families. She also goes around to greet the different guests and thank them for coming to the ceremony. The husband is required to move the garter up the thigh of his wife-to-be, and the woman with the colored garter is usually the next person to marry.

Wedding reception

The wedding reception in Paraguay is usually a vibrant event that lasts several hours. Most receptions begin in the afternoon and can run into the night. Some couples hire a DJ who will play different songs, including traditional and western music. Also, some couples may decide to hire traditional singers who will serve as a live band during the ceremony. Different foods and drinks are shared while the guests are dancing.

Same-sex and polygamous marriages

Marriages between spouses of the same sex are not recognized in Paraguay. In the country, same-sex sexual activities and status are legal; however, same-sex spouses may still face discrimination and some legal challenges. Same-sex spouses are not permitted to head households, and Paraguay is still very conservative about the status of LGBT people in the country. Single same-sex couples may be allowed to adopt children, but those in same-sex unions or registered partnerships are not allowed to adopt children.

Polygamy is banned in Paraguay. The offense of practicing polygamous marriages in the country is known as bigamy, and it is punishable by the payment of fines or even a jail term. Monogamous marriages are the only accepted form of marriage, and since most of the people living in the country are Christians, it generally aligns with the principles of their religion as well as the civil code. A man is strictly not allowed to have more than one wife at any point in time, and likewise for female spouses too.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

As with every other country in the world, there are specific laws and civil codes that guide the act of marriage in Paraguay. The minimum legal age for marriage in Paraguay is 18 years for both parties. Under very special circumstances, minors who are 16 years of age may be allowed to contract marriage provided they obtain parental consent; consent from a judge is required if the age of either of both parties is 14 or 15 years. Child marriage is not expressly criminalized in Paraguay. Such marriages can be annulled upon request. The law expressly states that marriage must not be entered into without the consent of both parties. Consent to marriage is a very important ingredient of marriage in Paraguay; couples must be in a stable and sound state of mind to be able to give consent to marriage. 

Any consent must be given without any external influence from family members. Forced marriage without the consent of both parties is illegal; the couple should be able to contract marriage without the use of force or threats. A marriage may be void if one of the partners is mentally unstable. The law guiding marriage in Paraguay recognizes both civil marriages and religious marriages; however, it is mandatory for a civil ceremony to be conducted so as to make the marriage legally binding. Civil ceremonies must be held at the civil registry of the municipality of one of the couples and must be conducted by a civil registrar. Marriage by proxy is allowed in Paraguay; if one of the couple is not available at the time of contracting marriage, such a marriage can be held and still have its full legal status. 

Same-sex activity is legal in Paraguay; however, same-sex marriage is not recognized by the Constitution, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The legal age of consent for homosexuals is 16 years. Cohabitation is allowed in Paraguay. Couples who do not want to enter into a formal marriage but want to be regarded as man and wife can contract a common-law marriage, also known as a de facto union. According to the laws of marriage in Paraguay, polygamous marriages are not allowed. Couples have to be single at the time of contracting marriage; if one or both spouses are in an existing marriage, that union has to be dissolved before a new one can be contracted. 

Proof of divorce or a certificate of death must be submitted to the appropriate authorities. A foreigner who is prohibited from marrying in his or her home country is not allowed to marry in Paraguay. Foreigners who wish to contract marriage must prove to the authorities that they are capable of contracting marriage and show that there is no legal impediment to marriage. If an Israeli national gets married in Paraguay, the marriage certificate is recognized in Israel. Couples who wish to contract marriage must present two witnesses on the day of the ceremony. All documentation, both for foreigners and nationals, must be verified, translated, and apostilled by the authorities before a marriage license can be issued.

Rights

The law in Paraguay recognizes the equal rights of men and women in the country, and the same applies to the institution of marriage. The husband and wife have access to equal rights in marriage; they both possess the right to enter into marriage provided they have reached the legal age for marriage. Both parties have the right to decide on matters affecting the health and well-being of the family. They have the right to raise the children in the home according to their various cultural, moral, and religious beliefs. Couples have the right to exercise their civil rights, such as participating in political and social activities, without any form of discrimination or limitation. 

They have the right to gain employment and pursue career goals and ambitions without having to seek permission from one another. Both parties are entitled to exercise their economic rights, property rights, inheritance rights, and cultural rights. Under the right to property and inheritance, both spouses have the right to inherit, use, and discard property. At the demise of either of them, the property of the deceased spouse goes to the surviving spouse. Couples have the right to choose whichever marital property regime they prefer, and they also have the right to sign a prenuptial agreement. 

The husband and wife both possess the right to initiate and finalize divorce based on mutual agreement or specific reasons such as abuse or desertion. Both parties have the right to receive custody of the children; the parent who has the best interest of the children at heart is granted custody. The couple has the right to own separate property and financial assets, which makes them independent. The couple has the right to visit their family members without any restrictions. Both men and women have the right to be seen as the heads of the home. The husband, however, has the right to stop his wife from working if it is making her neglect her duties and the children in the home. 

The husband also has the right to decide the domicile residence of the family; in fact, they both possess this right. Married men and women have the right to confer their nationality on their spouses and children if one of the spouses is a foreigner. Both parties have the right to report any form of violence or abuse against them, the children, or the family as a whole. They have the right to adopt children, a right that couples in civil unions do not have.

Costs

Marriage in Paraguay is very important to everyone. To contract a civil marriage, couples should expect to spend around PYG 63,000 for the marriage application fee, PYG 12,800 for the marriage certificate for both parties, and PYG 8,000 for the family books, which makes a total of PYG 83,800, which is approximately $11.61. A religious wedding might not cost as much or even anything at all; the wedding reception, however, might cost a lot more. Weddings in Paraguay cost thousands, if not millions, of Paraguayan guarani, and the couple's financial capacity is a major determinant of how much the wedding budget will cost. 

An average hotel room for guests in Paraguay costs around $49 per night and even more in expensive hotels. Wedding attire for both couples ranges from $850 to more than $1200.Couples who are not financially buoyant are advised to either get a dress from a local designer or rent wedding attire. The wedding ring, transportation, catering, and venue take up at least 55% of the wedding budget, while the remaining costs take up the rest of the budget. Couples can hire the services of a wedding planner, which also comes at a cost but reduces the stress of putting together a wedding budget all by one's self.

Duties

The Paraguayan society has not been balanced since the war that almost annihilated the whole population of the country; however, some balance has been restored, and household responsibilities are now equally shared among couples in marriage. In the home, the husband and wife have very important roles to play to ensure the smooth running of the home. In a typical Paraguayan home, the man has a duty to work and provide for the material and financial means of the family, while the woman is expected to be in charge of managing and maintaining the home and is responsible for the care and health of the children and all domestic housework. 

The husband and wife are responsible for the provision of food, shelter, and clothing for the children; they are also tasked with being responsible for the security of the children, particularly female children. The husband and wife have a duty to mutually support one another and mutually decide on issues that affect the family. Working couples help each other out when it comes to sharing duties and responsibilities in the home. The wife has a duty to respect her husband's family even if they are not on good terms, and the husband also has a duty to protect the integrity of his wife before his family and ensure that no disrespect comes to the family name.

Conclusion 

The process of getting married in Paraguay is straightforward. The country recognizes both civil and religious marriages, and there are various unique traditions that are celebrated by couples. Wedding ceremonies, especially traditional ones, may be performed in different locations depending on the choice of the spouses. Some popular wedding venues in Paraguay include the Paraná Country Club, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, and Terrazas del Bosque.

The marriage laws guiding the country stated that for a marriage certificate to be obtained, the marriage ceremony must have been performed by a state-authorized registrar or a registered clergyman. Marriages that are contracted through other means are not legally recognized. In the country, secular wedding ceremonies are held as a type of reception or party where there is a lot of freedom and no extensive legalities involved. This article has touched on everything you need to know about marriage in Paraguay.

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