Marriage Bill, 2013

Highlights:

1. Defines marriage as the voluntary union of a man and a woman whether monogamous or polygamous and registered in accordance with the Act.

2. Parties to a marriage have equal rights at the time of the marriage, during the marriage and at the dissolution of the marriage.

3. Minimum age of marriage-18 years.

4. Kinds of registrable/recognized marriages:

i. Christian marriages;
ii. Civil marriages;
iii. Customary marriages;
iv. Hindu marriages;
v. Islamic marriages; and
vi. Marriages by other faiths or groups.

5. All marriages are registrable and a certificate of marriage shall be issued upon registration.

6. Registration of customary marriages shall be done within six months of the marriage after completion of the necessary rituals for the union and both shall appear in person before the Director to be issued with the certificate of marriage.

7. Parties to a potentially polygamous marriage can convert to monogamous marriage.

8. Prohibited marriage relationships- between a person and grandparent, parent, child, grandchild, sister, brother, cousin, great aunt, great uncle, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, great niece or great nephew and adopted person. Between grandparent, parent, child or grandchild of that person's spouse or former spouse.

9. Void marriages:

(a) either party is below 18 years;
(b) the parties are within the prohibited marriage relationship;
(c) either party is incompetent to marry by reason of a subsisting marriage;
(d) by order the court;
(e) the consent of either party has not been freely given;
(f) either party is absent from the ceremony;
(g) both parties knowingly and wilfully permit a person who is not authorised to do so to celebrate the union;
(h) either party is mistaken about the identity of the other party; or
(i) either party knowingly or wilfully enters into the marriage for fraudulent purposes.

10. Voidable marriages:

(a) at the date of the marriage—

(i) either party was and has ever since remained incapable of consummating it;
(ii) either party was and has ever since remained subject to recurrent attacks of insanity;

(b) there was a failure to give notice of intention to marry;
(c) notice of objection to the intended marriage having been given was not withdrawn or dismissed;
(d) a person officiating thereat was not lawfully entitled to do so.
(e) the fact that a person officiating the marriage was not lawfully entitled to officiate;
(f) a procedural error that does not undermine the essence of the marriage in question; or
(g) failure to register the marriage.

11. Token dowry shall be sufficient evidence of payment of dowry in customary marriages.

12. Grounds of divorce for Christian marriages:

(a) one or more acts of adultery committed by the other party;
(b) cruelty, whether mental or physical, inflicted by the other party on the petitioner or on the children, if any, of the marriage; or
(c) desertion by either party for at least three years immediately preceding the date of presentation of the petition.

13. Grounds for divorce for customary marriages:

(a) adultery;
(b) cruelty;
(c) desertion; or
(d) any valid ground under the customary law of the petitioner.

14. Ground of divorce for Hindu marriages:

(a) the marriage has irretrievably broken down;
(b) the other party has deserted the petitioner for at least three years before the making of the petition;
(c) the other party has converted to another religion;
(d) since the celebration of the marriage, the other party has committed rape, sodomy, bestiality or adultery.

15. Grounds of divorce for Islamic marriages- governed by Islamic law.

16. Promise to marry another person is not binding but damages suffered by the other party may be recoverable against the party who refuses to honour a promise to marry.

17. Grounds for maintenance:

(a) if the person has refused or neglected to provide for the spouse or former spouse as required by the Act;
(b) if the person has deserted the other spouse or former spouse, for as long as the desertion continues;
(c) during the course of any matrimonial proceedings;
(d) when granting or after granting a decree of separation or divorce; or
(e) if, after making a decree of presumption of death, the spouse or former is found to be alive.

Offenses

Offence

Penalty

False statement of notice of intention to marry

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or fine not exceeding one million shillings or to both

Marrying a person below 18 years

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding one million shillings or to both.

Marrying a person within the prohibited marriage relationships

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding  three hundred thousand shillings or to both

Inducing consent by coercion or fraud

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding three (3) years or a fine of three hundred thousand shillings or to both.

Celebrating marriage by unauthorized person

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine of three hundred thousand shillings or to both

Celebrating a marriage without the required witnesses

imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding ten thousand shillings or to both.

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