Everything you need to know about marriage in Suriname

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

Suriname, officially the Republic of Suriname, is a South American country famous for its natural resources. The country is known to be one of the most ethnically diverse in the Americas. Every year, both Surinamese people and foreigners from other parts of the world get married in Suriname. There are several varieties of ways in which marriages are performed in the country as a result of the wide diversity present in terms of both religion and culture. The most common types of marriages practiced in the country are civil, religious, and traditional marriage ceremonies. A civil marriage is the only legally binding type of marriage in the country. Religious and traditional marriages are also quite popular in Suriname. 

There are several marriage traditions that have been performed in Suriname for a long time, up to a century. Surinamese nationals are big on marriage rituals, and traditional marriages used to be very popular in the past. Traditionally, marriages in the country were arranged between families, where male and female spouses were often promised to a close family in the same clan at an early age. Even now, couples in most rural areas are unable to perform customary marriages without the permission of their respective parents. 

Nowadays, most Surinamese weddings are performed in churches by Christians. According to the New Burgerlijk Wetboek of Suriname 2011, the minimum legal marriage age is 18 years. Under certain conditions, spouses below the age of 18 may be allowed to marry if the Minister of Justice grants an exemption. Child marriages in the country are prevalent, with about 36 percent of all marriages entered into by spouses below the age of 18. About 9 percent of all marriages in the country are entered into by spouses below the age of 15. Continue reading to find out more about marriage customs and traditions in Suriname.

Civil marriages

Civil marriages are performed in the civil registry by state-authorized marriage officers, or registrars. This type of marriage is recognized and protected in Suriname and other foreign countries. The registry used for the marriage must be the one in the municipality or district where either or both spouses reside. To begin the marriage application and registration process in Suriname, both spouses are required to declare their intention to marry. This can be done at the registrar’s office, and upon the declaration, the registrar will provide the spouses with documents that must be submitted as well as marriage conditions that must be met by both spouses before they are allowed to marry. 

Both spouses will be required to completely fill out an application form and return it to the registry office. Once the application is received, spouses will be able to proceed with the marriage arrangements and submit all the required documents. A valid means of identification must be provided by both spouses. This photo ID must have been obtained recently. Surinamese nationals may provide their national ID card, while foreign spouses may provide their passport. Some registrars may also require the passport submitted to have been obtained recently. Spouses who want to get married in Suriname must provide valid witnesses. For a witness to be fit for such an act in a marriage, he or she must be a citizen of Suriname and they must be over the age of 18. Both spouses must be in good legal standing with the government of Suriname. 

Foreign spouses are required to provide evidence that they are facing no prohibitions and are in good standing with their home country as well as Suriname. Foreign spouses will also be required to provide evidence that they are eligible for marriage in the country. Marriages cannot be performed when either or both spouses do not consent to them. The spouses must give their free will and consent to get married in Suriname. Also, both spouses are required to ensure they are medically and physically fit to enter the marriage and maintain their compatibility. People who are mentally challenged and unable to make decisions on their own may not be allowed to enter marriages in the country. Also, spouses that are facing criminal legal challenges will be unable to perform ceremonies in Suriname. 

Surinamese people speak several languages; however, the official and most spoken language in the country is Dutch. When documents are obtained from the concerned authorities of a foreign spouse’s home country or embassy in Suriname, such documents may be provided in foreign languages. However, marriage documents submitted during the registration in Suriname must be in Dutch, which makes it essential for foreign spouses to request the help of an accredited translator in Suriname to translate the documents. All documents must also be properly legalized with an apostille. The documents that must be submitted by spouses getting married are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid photo ID such as a national ID card or a passport
  • Both spouses are required to provide a legal birth certificate that carries their name as they are addressed as well as that of their respective parents.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Separated or widowed spouses are required to provide either of these documents as evidence of the legal termination of the previous marriage.
  • Proof of unmarried status Both spouses must provide evidence that they are single at the time of marriage. Foreign spouses must provide a certificate of single status.
  • Proof of residency. Either of both partners must reside in Suriname for at least a day.
  • Two witnesses must be provided by both spouses during the marriage ceremony.

Religious marriages 

Most religious marriages in Suriname are performed in accordance with the principles of Christianity. Suriname is majorly dominated by Christians, with about 52 percent of the total population, followed by Hindus. Hinduism is practiced by about 18 percent of the population, and Islam is practiced by 14 percent of the people. The rest of the Surinamese either practice traditional folk religions or have no religious affiliations. In Suriname, a religious marriage holds no legal validity. 

This type of marriage may only be performed after a civil marriage has been performed. Religious and traditional marriages are performed based on the religious and customary beliefs of spouses, respectively, as long as they do not contradict the civil marriage laws as stated in the country’s constitution.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Suriname 02

Marriage traditions in Suriname

Wedding rings 

The custom in a traditional Surinamese wedding ceremony is for the bride and groom to exchange wedding rings during the church service. The rings are meant to symbolize the love both partners have for each other and how they will always remain committed to the marriage.

Tossing the bouquet

This is a Surinamese wedding tradition that is common in the white weddings of some countries. Here, the new wife faces a crowd of unmarried ladies at the wedding ceremony and throws her wedding bouquet backwards. Whoever catches the bouquet is said to be the next to get married. This also symbolizes fidelity and good luck.

Wedding Feast 

After the conclusion of the church service in a Surinamese wedding, the couple and their guests, family, and friends often head straight to a new venue where the wedding feast will be held alongside other interesting activities like dancing, the exchange of gifts, as well as additional prayers and well wishes.

Same-sex Polygamy 

There is no recognition of same-sex marriages in Suriname. Same-sex sexual activities and homosexuality are legal in the country. The status has been legal since 1869, and both partners are also allowed to undergo gender change in the country. Up until now, same-sex spouses still faced discrimination in Suriname, and they were not allowed to head households.

Polygamy in Suriname

Polygamy is prohibited in Suriname. Marriage is regarded as a union between one man and one woman. Multiple spouses are not allowed to enter marriages in Suriname. In some rural areas, there are still some cases of people practicing polygamous marriages; however, this is not rampant in the country. The practice of polygamy may result in some legal challenges.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Suriname 03

Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Every country has its own laws that apply to its citizens contracting marriage, and not only its citizens—they also apply to foreigners as well. The law of marriage in Suriname specifies how marriage should be conducted and the processes and requirements for getting married in the country. Anyone who is a citizen of Suriname and wishes to be married must fulfill the age requirement. The legal age for marriage in Suriname is 18 years for both males and females. Anyone who has not attained this age is prohibited from getting married. However, in extreme cases, minors under the age of 16 may contract marriage. Anyone under the age of 26 is prohibited from getting married, and anyone who allows or conducts such marriages is liable to face punishment. 

Marriage must only be between people who are in a stable state of mind. The groom and bride must have a comprehensive understanding of the institution of marriage. If either of the couple is not in a sound state of mind, the marriage would not be allowed to take place. Both the groom and bride must be single at the time of marriage; they must not be in any legally subsisting marriage. Couples should either be unmarried, divorced, or widowed to be able to enter into a marriage agreement. Polygamy is against the law in Suriname; neither the husband nor wife is allowed to marry more than one in-law at the same time. Anyone who does not have the capacity to marry is prohibited from getting married in the country or outside the country. Foreigners must be legally capable of contracting marriage in their home country to be able to get married in Suriname. 

Civil marriage is the only recognized form of marriage in the country; other forms are permitted but do not have any legal value. The civil marriage must be held at the civil registry and be conducted by an authorized official of the civil registry. If either of the couple has been previously married, the court demands that they provide proof that the marriage is nonexistent by submitting a certificate of divorce, a copy of the certificate of marriage annulment, or a certificate of death of the former spouse. Marriage between people who are related is against the law. Couples must not share any form of affinity with one another; they must not be related by blood, adoption, or marriage.

Rights

Surinamese couples have equal rights in marriage, just like many other couples around the world. The rights of marriage comprise both basic human rights and specific rights that are made available to couples by virtue of marriage. Such rights include the ability to file a joint tax as one unit rather than separately. This guarantees couples more benefits that are not available to unmarried men and women. Spouses have the right to work and receive fair treatment at the workplace. Pregnant married women are granted certain benefits, such as paid maternity leave, etc. 

The wife has the same right as her husband to confer their nationality on their children and foreign spouses. They both have the right to legal guardianship of the children, and they also enjoy the right to exercise parental authority when necessary. These rights must not be abused, and they cannot be renounced. The husband and wife have the right to raise the children according to the religious and moral inclinations of the family. They have the right to exercise their political and economic rights. Couples have the right to vote and be voted for. They have the right to run for and fill public government positions without restrictions as regards their marital status. 

Spouses have the right to own property and inherit. At the time of marriage, the couple has the right to decide which marital regime of property will be in effect during the course of the marriage. They can choose a joint regime of property or a separate regime of property. They also have the right to sign a prenuptial agreement at the time of marriage, which protects the property and financial assets of the groom and bride in the event of divorce. When a breakdown occurs in marriage, the couple has the right to initiate and finalize divorce. The rights of couples over their children are not affected by divorce or separation; they both enjoy equal custody and visitation rights.

Costs

Weddings in Suriname are big affairs. However, they are both affordable and expensive, depending on the couple's financial situation. The average cost of a wedding in Suriname is around 50,000 Surinamese dollars, which is approximately $1,550. This cost covers the food and drinks for about 50 guests, the music and entertainment, the rental of the wedding venue, etc.

Couples can decide to have more intimate wedding receptions to cut costs. The least expensive wedding hotel accommodation in Suriname costs around 2,000 Surinamese dollars, and the most expensive rooms cost around 5,500 Surinamese dollars, which is approximately $170. The couple bears the total cost of the wedding, which includes the couple's attire, the wedding cake, the wedding rings, and so on.

Duties

Marriage comes with a number of duties and responsibilities for couples to carry out in the home. The family is considered the foundation of society, so couples have a role to play in ensuring that the foundation is solid. The husband and wife are obligated to love one another, respect each other, care for and protect one another, and ensure that the needs of the family are met as often as possible. 

At one time or another, the couple is obligated to respect each other's families and be hospitable to visitors. The educational background and moral upbringing of the children should be the utmost priorities of the couple. The wife is primarily in charge of the housework, but she can be assisted by the husband in taking care of certain responsibilities in the home. 

The husband and wife have a duty to pull together their resources to ensure that the needs of the family are met. Couples are obligated to be emotionally and physically available for the children and themselves at all times. Part of the duty of the husband and wife in a typical Surinamese household is to provide adequate amenities for the family, such as food, clothing, and shelter.

Conclusion 

Suriname is a multireligious and multiethnic country. There are several marriage traditions performed in the country that make the process of marriage both interesting and memorable for both Surinamese and spouses from other countries. The country is dominated by Christians, and church weddings are the most popular.

In Suriname, there are criteria that must be met by both spouses before they are allowed to enter a marriage. There is also a residency requirement; however, it is for a short duration. Foreign spouses are required to have stayed in Suriname for a day prior to the wedding ceremony. This implies that foreigners may arrive a day or two before their marriage ceremony to ensure everything progresses smoothly. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriages in Suriname.

 

Related