Everything you need to know about marriage in the Dominican Republic

12 Apr 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in the Dominican Republic 01

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation with unique marriage customs and traditions. Over 35,000 marriages are held every year in the country. Traditional, religious, and civil marriages are the most popular types of marriage, and some couples also hold symbolic marriages. Symbolic marriages are often held by couples who do not have any affiliation with religious bodies and have chosen to celebrate their marriage according to their own beliefs. Nevertheless, civil and religious marriages are the only types of marriages that are recognized and protected by the laws in the country.
The age limit for marriage set in the country is 18 years, and spouses must have reached that age before getting married. Underage marriages are not allowed, and boys and girls between the ages of 15 (for girls) and 16 (for boys) and 18 who plan to get married under special circumstances must first get parental or guardian consent before proceeding to do so. Both foreigners and Dominican nationals are able to get married in the country, and the processes involved with civil marriage registration are completed quickly. This article will show you the various major aspects of marriage in the Dominican Republic, along with the laws and rights guiding them. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages 

Civil marriages are conducted by an authorized or registered registrar in the state registry. This type of marriage is open to both citizens of the country and foreign nationals. Civil marriages are legally binding in the Dominican Republic. If a foreign spouse gets married in the Dominican Republic, their marriage is deemed legal in other countries around the world. One of the most important requirements that must be met by spouses is the minimum age. The legal age to get married is 18 years, but boys and girls aged 16 and 15 may get married with parental consent. Before couples get married, they must also ensure there are no impediments or instructions to marriage. 

Foreign spouses who are not eligible for marriage in their home country are not allowed to perform a marriage in the Dominican Republic unless authorization has been provided by the court or government to do so. The necessary conditions must be met by the couples before they are allowed to get married in the country. Spouses who were previously married must end all marriages and relationships before entering a new one. If a person enters into two marriages at the same time, it renders the second one invalid under the laws of the country. Also, both spouses need to check their medical status to ensure there are no underlying illnesses or sicknesses, both physically and mentally. Both partners must be fully aware of each other's status to avoid future complications or issues in the marriage. The documents required from spouses getting married in the Dominican Republic are stated below.

Documents required for a civil marriage

  • Both spouses must submit valid means of identification. This includes a national identity card or passport.
  • Copies of the birth certificate. The birth certificate should carry the name of the spouse the way they want to be addressed and other vital information, like their parents' names.
  • Proof of residency This document must be presented by a foreign spouse to show that they have been living in the Dominican Republic for the past 6 months prior to the wedding date.
  • Proof of single status. Marriages can only be held between two people who are single, and the spouses must provide evidence that they are not in a current relationship or marriage. Foreign spouses may need to file a court-sworn affidavit for their single status.
  • Both spouses must provide two witnesses. These witnesses must be above the age of 18 and not be related to the spouses.
  • Divorce and death certificate. This document only applies to partners who were previously married. A divorce decree must be submitted if a spouse separated from his or her former partner, and a death certificate must be provided by a spouse whose former partner died.

All the documents must be fully filled out and signed by the couple, witnesses, and registrar before a marriage license can be obtained. Spouses who are requesting documents from other countries must make sure they are properly authorized with an apostille, and they must also be translated into Spanish by an authorized company offering translation services. The translation cannot simply be done by a person who understands Spanish. It must be carried out by an accredited translator.

Religious marriages 

Marriages held in the Roman Catholic Church are legally binding in the Dominican Republic. Over 80% of the people living in the country are Christians under the Roman Catholic Church denomination. This type of marriage is also referred to as a canonical marriage. These types of marriages are conducted by an authorized priest, and they are often over within two hours. Church marriages involve all the norms that are observed in the Christian faith.
Marriages performed in the Roman Catholic Church are legally binding. Those conducted in other Christian church denominations or other religions, such as Islam, may not be recognized and protected by law. Couples should conduct a civil marriage before conducting other types of marriages that are not held in the Roman Catholic Church. Also, requirements such as baptisms and confirmation certificates must be provided by couples who are marrying in the church. All the marriage registration processes will be conducted by the church so as to make the marriage valid in the country.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the Dominican Republic 02

Marriage Traditions in the Dominican Republic

There are several unique traditions celebrated by couples getting married in the Dominican Republic. Some of these traditions are stated below.

Merengue 

This is an important tradition to the Dominicans, and no wedding ceremony is complete without the merengue. The merengue is a type of music and dance that originated in Cuba. It is a special type of dance that is performed during the reception activities, where the newlyweds get to show off their moves while they are being cheered on by their friends and other guests.

Bridal Party 

It is customary for the bride to have her own wedding party for the ceremony. The wedding ceremony usually includes a ring bearer, flower girl, godparents of the couple called padrinhos and madrinhas, as well as the Bible carrier. All members of the wedding party usually have duties assigned to them to make the wedding ceremony beautiful.

Church ceremony 

Most marriages held in the Dominican Republic take place in the church, and church ceremonies have been the custom and norm for couples in the country. The ceremony usually starts in the morning and may be attended by selected friends and family or various guests who were invited. Most times, a wedding reception follows the church ceremony at another venue.

Arras 

This is a popular tradition in the Roman Catholic Church that involves the use of 13 gold coins. The priest blesses these coins and presents them to the couple. The groom then gathers them and presents them to his bride as a symbol of his willingness to entrust all of his material possessions to her. She also reciprocated this gesture by giving him the rings. This tradition is still quite popular.

Same-sex and Polygamous marriages

Same-sex marriages are prohibited in the Dominican Republic. Couples are not allowed to get married to someone of the same sex. Other forms of unions, such as cohabitation and civil partnerships, are also neither recognized nor protected under the laws of the country. Same-sex couples enjoy none of the rights and benefits available to opposite-sex couples.
Polygamous marriages are not allowed in the Dominican Republic. A man is not allowed to marry more than one woman at a time, and likewise for women. If a new marriage is to be formed, the previous one must be legally annulled. Polygamy is illegal and a punishable crime under the laws of the Dominican Republic.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the Dominican Republic 03

Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws 

The Dominican Republic is renowned for its warm culture and stunning tropical settings. Many couples, both foreigners and nationals, could easily become overwhelmed with this and end up failing to adhere to all the laws and regulations governing marriage in the nation. The Dominican Republic's family code is rather straightforward, and before a marriage may be contracted, it is only necessary to make sure that all conditions are satisfied. Males and females must be at least 18 years old and 15 years old, respectively, at the time of marriage, and parental consent must be obtained before such a marriage can be legal. Persons who wish to get married without parental consent must be at least 21 years old for women and 25 years old for men. In certain circumstances, a judge may disregard the law requiring females to be at least 15 years old.

Couples must have a full understanding of the concept of marriage and must give their free and willing consent to the marriage because marriage, according to the law, must be the voluntary decision of both parties. If marriage is contracted through force, such marriages can be declared invalid. Couples must be single at the time of marriage; if at any point in time one or both of the couples were previously married, a certificate of divorce or a certificate of death stating that the marriage is no longer legally binding must be presented before the civil registry or the church. The law guiding marriage in the Dominican Republic recognizes and protects both civil and religious marriages; couples can decide to have a civil or religious ceremony or both as they wish. After a religious ceremony, only the church is responsible for registering the marriage in the civil register. The law makes provisions for couples in de facto unions; these couples also enjoy the same rights that married couples enjoy. 

At the time of marriage, two witnesses chosen by the couples must be available to testify to the marriage with their signatures and presence. Same-sex marriages in the Dominican Republic are not recognized by the law; however, relations between same-sex couples are allowed in the country. Marriage between people who share a common ancestor or are related through marriage alliance is illegal under the law. Consanguineous marriages are illegal and are forbidden in the Dominican Republic. Foreigners are allowed to marry as long as they have all necessary documentation, such as identity documents that must be translated and apostille, and meet all requirements. A civil marriage must be conducted by an authorized notary at the civil registry, while a religious wedding must be conducted by an authorized minister or priest.

Rights

Marriage rights are believed to belong to couples upon contracting marriage until the demise of one of the spouses or in the event of divorce. The institution establishes various rights for couples in marriage and those in civil unions. In the Dominican Republic, couples have the right to equally assume the role of the head of the family, and there are many households where the man is no longer in the picture and are headed by women. Couples have the right to work and receive meaningful payment for that work. Under certain circumstances, the right to adopt is available to couples in de facto unions. Couples have the right to make one another their legal next of kin in cases of emergencies, which automatically makes the right to inheritance available to couples. By default, couples are under a property regime known as the "absolute community property regime," where all properties obtained before and during marriage by both spouses belong to both of them and, in the event of separation, would be split equally. If a prenuptial agreement is signed at the time of marriage, couples have the right to own property and any financial assets acquired before and during marriage separately, and in the event of separation, they would not be split among spouses. Couples have the right to choose their family's domicile residence as well as the type of educational and moral upbringing that is best for their children. Spouses have the right to file for divorce based on mutual consent or for another reason.

Costs

When it comes to putting together a wedding budget, it might seem like an almost impossible task and can be really frustrating, but having a proper idea of what you want and how much it will cost on your big day is very important. For any marriage anywhere in the world, the cost of the venue and catering is a very important part of the wedding budget, and in the Dominican Republic, an average venue costs about £690. Photography and videography are also essential parts of the budget. A wedding is one of the most important parts of a man's life, and capturing those moments to relive the memory would cost about £1665 for photography and about £1593 for videography. It is advisable to pick just one if you're trying to cut costs. The music at any wedding is very important, and in the Dominican Republic it is just as important. The music, whether it's from a DJ or a band, costs about £538. Hair, makeup, and decorations all cost around $1,000. In summary, couples would be spending a little over £15,000 for an average Dominican wedding, unlike other western countries where the average cost of a wedding starts at £23,000 and quickly increases depending on how lavish the wedding is.

Duties

The Dominican Republic is a country that respects men and women alike and places importance on their roles in the family. The Dominican society sees the family as the nucleus of society and places a number of responsibilities on couples to raise a good family. The duties in the home are not based on gender roles; women can carry out the duties of men, and the same goes for men. Women are not obligated to obey their husbands, but couples are expected to show love, loyalty, mutual respect, and support for one another. The couple has a duty to be responsible for the upbringing of the children in the family; the responsibility to provide proper shelter, clothing, feeding, and access to education rests on their shoulders. Spouses should come to an agreement on how things should be done in the home and ensure that both parties carry out their respective duties. The man is seen as the sole provider of the family, but this role is taken on by both parties; couples are obligated to contribute jointly to the wellbeing and welfare of the family.

In Summary 

The Dominican Republic has beautiful locations and venues where thousands of marriages are held every year. Couples getting married in the country have the option of conducting a civil or religious marriage. Other forms of marriage may be conducted, but a civil marriage must be held first before the couple is regarded as being lawfully married.
The Dominican Republic does not allow marriages between people of the same sex. Homosexuality is prohibited and not recognized in the country. This applies to both citizens of the country as well as foreigners. Before marrying, spouses must ensure that all conditions and requirements have been met in order to avoid delays and hindrances. Once all of the documents are in order, the marriage process can be completed quickly. We hope this comprehensive guide has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriage in the Dominican Republic.

Related