What is a Marriage?

A marriage is a voluntary union of a man and woman whether in a monogamous or polygamous union registered under the Marriages Act, 2014.

Does Kenya recognize same sex marriages?

No. Article 45(2) of the Constitution of Kenya provides that every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties.

How many systems of marriages are recognized in Kenya?

Five (5) systems are provided in the Marriages Act and they include Civil Marriages, Christian Marriages, Hindu Marriages, Customary Marriages and Islamic Marriages. A Christian, Hindu or civil marriage is monogamous. A marriage celebrated under customary law or Islamic law is presumed to be polygamous or potentially polygamous.

What Changes have been undertaken during the Covid-19 period at the Registry?

The Registrar of Marriages has moved marriages services to the online platform. You need to log into your e-citizen account, and head to the Attorney General’s services to enable you file your notice.

Notice of intention to marry.

Parties that intend to marry should lodge a notice with the Registrar three months before the set date. The Notice will be in a prescribed form which includes the names and ages of the parties, names of their parents, declaration of their marital status and declaration that they are not within a prohibited relationship e.g sister and brother. The notice also indicates the date and venue of the ceremony. This notice is then published in the place where the marriage is to be undertaken.

N.B: The Registrar has the powers to dispense with the notice if there is sufficient reason to do so.

How are objections handled?

If a person has an objection when the notice of intention to marry is given, or of a person knows an impediment for that marriage, then he or she should give a written notice of objection to the person in charge of the public place of worship. The Church Minister should hear the objection and determine if it needs further hearing, in which case he or she will postpone the wedding ceremony till the objection is heard as per the church regulations. After the hearing, which should take not more than 7 days, he or she needs to prepare a report and send to the parties and to the Registrar. Any aggrieved party can appeal to the court within 14 days of the decision.

This is the same process when it’s a civil union, except that it’s the Registrar that hears the objection.

How Many Marriage Certificates are issued?

Three (3) Certificates are issued. One is given to the parties, and a copy is retained by the officiating minister while the other copy is sent to the Registrar.

When is a Special Licence given?

A special license applies to Civil, Christian and Hindu marriages where:

  1. One or both parties are foreign nationals; or
  2. The marriage is taking place outside a gazzeted location for example a garden wedding, hotel among others

Are Foreign Marriages recognized?

If a marriage is celebrated outside Kenya in a church set-up, then it is recognized in Kenya only if it was celebrated in a way that is consistent with the laws of that country. Secondly, the parties should have had capacity at the time of marriage e.g they were of age. This also applies to marriages undertaken at the embassies or high commissions.

If you celebrated your marriage abroad, you can still apply to have it registered under the Register of Marriages in Kenya.

What law governs Customary Marriages?

A marriage under customary law is to be celebrated according to the customs of the communities of one or both of the parties.

It is important to note that even customary marriages are now required to obtain marriage certificates from the Registrar’s office once the customary requirements that signify marriage are complete.

What documents are required at the time of registration?

  1. There is a form to fill at the Registrar’s Office;
  2. Your original and copy of ID;
  3. A coloured passport photo; and
  4. If divorced, a Decree absolute from the court.

How much does it cost?

  1. Civil Marriages by Notice for Kenyans: Kshs. 3,900
  2. Civil Marriages by Special Licence for a Kenyan and a Foreigner: Kshs.9,700/= if at the Registrar’s office and Kshs. 16,700/= if at a Garden
  3. Christian Wedding/ Hindu wedding for Kenyans by notice at a place of worship: Kshs. 1,400/= and if in a garden, Kshs. 7,200/=
  4. Christian/Hindu Marriage by Special Licence for a Kenyan and Foreigner: Kshs. 7,200/= if at a place of worship and Kshs. 14,200 if at a Garden.
  5. Registration of a Customary Marriage: Kshs. 3,900/=

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Kenya?

  1. Adultery
  2. Cruelty, whether mental or physical
  3. Desertion for at least three years
  4. Exceptional depravity by either party
  5. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage

How about the annulment of marriages?

  1. Marriage was never consummated;
  2. The parties are in a prohibited relationship;
  3. Consent to marry was not freely given;
  4. One party was absent at the ceremony;
  5. The wife was pregnant at the time of marriage, and without the groom’s knowledge, the child was not his
  6. If monogamous, the other party was already married at the time of marriage;
  7. Insanity of a party at the time of marriage.

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