A recent article looked at Faroese men marrying Thai or Phillipino women due to the lack of females on the Islands. This raises some interesting legal questions in regards to marriage between people of different nationalities and people getting married abroad.
Similarly, people from one country who choose to marry abroad also involve legal issues. Couples who, for example, choose to get married in Spain or Italy may not even consider whether there is likely to be a question over the validity of the marriage.
The law in these two scenarios is called private international law, or conflicts of laws, as there are international rules which regulate the law applicable to individuals.
So what about two English people wanting to get married abroad?
In the scenario of two English people wanting to get married abroad it is essential that they comply with the legal requirements of the country in which they get married. In Spain, for example, there may be a residence requirement depending on the region in which the ceremony is to take place. There can be a lot of bureaucracy involved and travel companies should advise on the requirements for the place in which the ceremony is to take place.
Provided that the marriage has been validly entered into in accordance with the law of the place where it takes place, it is binding all around the world.
Matters become more complicated if the law of the place of the marriage conflicts with the law which applies to the individual getting married.
So what may cause such conflict?
As an example, a man wanting to marry his male partner who is from a country which does not permit same sex marriage; or a 15 year old English girl wanting to marry abroad in a country which allows this.
In these situations the law which applies is the law of a person’s domicile which is, essentially, the law of the country a person treats as their home and with which they have the strongest connection.
A person’s domicile dictates their ‘personal law’ which applies to them. In the case of the man who wants to marry his male partner in this country, his personal law stipulates that he does not have capacity to marry and therefore a same sex marriage entered into in this country may not be valid. In respect of the 15 year old girl, her personal law is English law which does not allow her to marry. Consequently, if she goes abroad to marry and her domicile has not changed, any marriage she contracts is not valid on the basis that she lacks capacity.
If anyone has doubts about the validity of a marriage it is essential that legal advice is obtained. This may involve a detailed consideration of the personal laws of each of the parties as well as formalities of the marriage ceremony itself. Feel free to call us on 0114 218 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.