Everything you need to know about marriage in Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis, officially the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, is an island country and microstate in the Caribbean. The country consists of two islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, both located in the West Indies. Every year, Kittitians, Nevisians, and foreigners from other countries contract civil and religious marriages in the country. These two marriages are recognized and protected by law in Saint Kitts and Nevis. Even though they both require a marriage license prior to their respective ceremonies, their marriage procedures are still different. The family is considered to be a very important part of the culture in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and family members often maintain strong ties throughout their lives.
In traditional Kittitian and Nevisian culture, the mother and father both have strong roles in raising children. However, the father is often the primary breadwinner, and the mother is responsible for the care of the home and children. You will find out more about the roles of the husband and wife in the "duties" section of this article. Joint or extended families living together are also common in St. Kitts and Nevis, especially in rural areas. In these families, grandparents often play a major role in the raising of children, while multiple generations of the family live together and share resources. Arranged marriages are not common in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and even the tradition of seeking the consent of parents for their blessings and approval is not a popular custom.
The majority of marriages in the country are based on love and mutual attraction between partners. However, in some traditional communities, it's not uncommon for families to play a role in the selection of a marriage partner for their children, especially for their daughters, where the families would ensure that their children marry someone who is of good standing, has a good reputation, and is of similar social and economic background. The rest of the article will touch on the types of marriages in Saint Kitts and Nevis as well as their popular traditions.
There is no residency requirement to perform a civil marriage in Saint Kitts and Nevis. Couples may get married in a short period of time as soon as a marriage license is obtained. The marriage registration and ceremony are performed by authorized registrars in the civil registry. In order to obtain a marriage license, the couple is required to obtain a marriage application form, fill it out, and sign it in the presence of the justice of the peace. The couples will be required to pay a certain amount as fees for the services of the Justice of the Peace. There are conditions that must be met by both spouses before the marriage ceremony is scheduled. Both partners getting married must not be related to each other by direct link or affinity.
This implies that spouses who are blood relatives cannot get married. Even blood and adopted siblings and parents are prohibited from marrying each other in the country. The legal marriage age in Saint Kitts and Nevis is 18 years for both male and female spouses. However, there is an exception that allows spouses of ages 16 and 17 to perform marriages in the country, provided that they have parental or guardian consent. The marriage registrar conducts an interview or counseling before the actual wedding ceremony takes place to confirm all the information submitted by the couple and also ensure both partners are getting married of their own free will and volition.
They must also provide proof of identity, such as a valid passport or national ID card, and proof of residency. Both parties must also give notice of their intent to marry at least 21 days in advance, and the marriage ceremony must be performed by a civil registrar or marriage officer for it to be legally recognized. Additionally, both parties must sign a declaration that there is no legal impediment to the marriage. One of the most common reasons for a legal impediment to marry is that one spouse is still involved in a previous marriage that has not been legally terminated or has been convicted of a crime in the country.
Foreign spouses who are prohibited from getting married in their home country are not allowed to contract marriages in Saint Kitts and Nevis. There are no strict medical requirements for civil marriages in the country; however, it is generally a good idea for couples to be aware of any potential health issues that could affect their relationship and to discuss them with each other and a healthcare professional before getting married. Additionally, it is important for both parties to be aware of their own and their partner's sexual health and to take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The documents that both partners must submit during the marriage registration are stated below.
- A valid photo identification or passport
- Both partners must provide original or certified copies of their birth certificates.
- An original or certified copy of a divorced spouse’s decree absolute must be submitted, and it must carry a court's stamp or seal.
- If a spouse is widowed, they must submit a copy of the death certificate of their previous deceased spouse.
- Affidavit of single status This document must be provided by spouses who have never been married, and the paperwork may be obtained from a notary public.
- A notarized letter granting parental consent must be submitted by spouses who have not reached the age of 18.
Religious marriages are popular in Saint Kitts and Nevis. The country is dominated by Christians, with the largest denomination being the Protestant Church, with about 74 percent. The rest of the population is made up of Rastafarians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, and others with no religious affiliation. Catholic weddings are performed by registered Catholic priests. Couples who wish to get married in the Catholic Church will be required to receive mandatory marriage counseling sessions from their parish priest and submit all the required Catholic marriage requirements.
The counseling sessions may last up to six weeks, and the marriage ceremony will only take place in the church if the priest consents to it after being convinced that both partners are fit and ready for marriage. The priest will be required to issue a letter stating that both partners are unmarried and have received all the necessary information required for marriage in the church.
Marriage traditions in Saint Kitts and Nevis
The custom at church weddings in Saint Kitts and Nevis is for the bride to wear a white wedding dress or gown. Depending on her preferences, she may choose to wear a veil covering her face until the ceremony begins. The groom mostly wears a black, navy blue, or white tuxedo during the wedding ceremony.
Exchange of Gifts
During the wedding reception of Kittitians and Nevisians, various guests present gift items to the newlyweds. The gifts often come in different forms, including money, appliances, etc. Most times, the guests will say a prayer and wish the couple well as they enter their new era.
The First Dance
The first dance is a popular wedding tradition performed in Kittitian and Nevisian weddings. The DJ or live band plays traditional music while the bride and groom open the dance floor with their own special dance. In some cases, the dance may be choreographed by the couple before they are joined by other guests.
Same-sex marriages are illegal in Saint Kitts and Nevis. The culture and social attitudes towards the LGBT community in Saint Kitts and Nevis tend to be conservative, and the society is not accepting of same-sex relationships. The status of homosexuality and same-sex sexual activity became legal in 2022; however, there are still no serious protections for same-sex couples from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act in Saint Kitts and Nevis, polygamous marriages are illegal. A person who marries a second time while still legally married to another person is committing a crime referred to as bigamy. In Saint Kitts and Nevis, bigamy may result in legal consequences such as the payment of fines and imprisonment. There are not many cases of polygamy in the country, even in rural regions and communities.
Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties
Marriage in St. Kitts and Nevis is governed by the Marriage Act of 1825 and the Marriage Amendment Act of 2000. Under these laws, both civil and religious marriages are recognized as legally binding. Customary marriages are allowed, but they do not have any legal value. Anyone who wishes to marry must be free from any legally binding marriage. The groom and bride must either be unmarried, widowed, or divorced to be able to contract a new marriage agreement. Any of the spouses who are divorced must provide proof of marital status, such as a divorce decree, and in the case of widowhood, the marriage and death certificates of the former spouse are applicable. Besides fulfilling the marital status requirements, the groom and bride must fulfill the age requirement. They must be at least 18 years old to be able to contract marriage. Anyone who has not reached the legal age may not be allowed to contract marriage in St. Kitts and Nevis, even under extenuating circumstances.
Both the groom and bride must be in a sound state of mind to be able to give consent to marriage. Marriage must not be contracted with the use of force or violence. The civil ceremony must be performed by an authorized officer or registrar at the civil registry or a different location chosen by the couple. A notice of intent to marry must be submitted to the civil registry at least 21 days before the chosen wedding date. Religious marriages also have the same requirements as civil marriages. However, in place of a marriage registrar, an authorized priest or minister of the specific religion of the couple must conduct the ceremony. The couple is often required to go through a premarital class and obtain a certificate from their various religious institutions indicating the completion of the class before marriage can take place.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, the Marriage Act of 1825 defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the purpose of founding a family. This implies that same-sex marriages are not allowed. Same-sex couples may be allowed to carry out their various sexual activities, but they must not contract marriage. Foreigners are allowed to contract marriage in St. Kitts and Nevis. In fact, mixed marriages are also permitted in the country. Foreigners do not have to fulfill any residency requirements before marriage can take place in St. Kitts and Nevis. According to the marriage laws in St. Kitts and Nevis, the groom and bride must not be related to one another, whether directly through blood relations or indirectly through marriage alliance or adoption.
The rights of married men and women in St. Kitts and Nevis are encoded in the Marriage Act of 1825 and the Marriage (Amendment) Act of 2000. These rights are equally distributed, and the couple is allowed to enjoy these rights even after the dissolution of marriage. The husband and wife have equal citizenship rights. They have the right to change, retain, or acquire citizenship and confer their nationality on their foreign spouses. Married men and women both enjoy equal workplace rights.
They have the right to work and be paid fairly for their efforts. They must not be subjected to any form of discrimination at the workplace. Not only do they enjoy these rights, but they also have equal rights to civil liberties such as the right to participate in financial and economic activities. The wife had the same right as her husband to obtain credits, take on financial commitments, or make investments without having to seek permission from one another. The right to seek legal assistance against any form of domestic violence or abuse is granted to the husband and wife. Married men and women enjoy the right to file joint taxes as a family.
The family is considered to be one unit; therefore, couples enjoy certain benefits and remunerations on their taxes. They both enjoy equal guardianship rights over the children. The husband and wife have the same right to exercise parental authority over the children when needed. Even in the event of divorce, the rights of couples over their children do not end. Both the husband and wife have the same right to divorce. It can be initiated by either spouse based on mutual consent or based on the fault of one of the spouses. Some of the grounds upon which divorce can be contracted are desertion, abandonment, domestic abuse, imprisonment, etc.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, couples should ensure that they have a proper idea of the cost of items and services that would be provided on the day of the ceremony. The couple should also take into consideration the number of invited guests, the size of the ceremony, and their personal choices. It costs around EC$200 to obtain a marriage license in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The average cost of a wedding ceremony in St. Kitts and Nevis is estimated to be anywhere from $3,000 to as much as $10,000 or more, depending on the financial status of the couple and their families. Wedding hotel rooms range in price from $95 to more than $1,000 per night. The price is relative, as the location of the hotel and its reputation are major determinants.
Marriage automatically creates an altruistic mindset in couples. They no longer look to satisfy their personal needs; they have to take the interests of others, specifically their spouses and children, into consideration. The husband and wife have a very important duty to ensure that the wellbeing and welfare of the children are catered to. The proper educational and moral upbringing of the children is the most important responsibility of couples in St. Kitts and Nevis. The material and nonmaterial needs of the children must be provided for according to the means of the couple.
However, the children should not be the only focus of the couple, as they have duties to one another. The husband and wife have a duty to love, respect, and support one another. Couples are expected to live together in the same residence to foster unity and harmony in the family. They are both expected to carry out their conjugal responsibilities in marriage. They are both obligated to contribute to the health and comfort of the family and ensure that the family is protected from any form of harm.
The most popular types of marriages performed in Saint Kitts and Nevis are religious and civil marriages. Both marriages have certain requirements and laws governing their acts, which must be followed by spouses for their marriages to be recognized in the country. All civil marriages performed by authorized registrars are internationally valid.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is one of the easiest countries in the world to get married. There are no residency or medical requirements, and the documents to be submitted are straightforward. The country makes provisions for foreigners to contract marriages smoothly and quickly. Marriages performed by religious persons occur between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., while those performed by magistrates take place between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
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