The Validity of Marriage

Friday, 03 September 2010 18:04

The law on validity of marriage is governed by the 1974 Marriage Law and its implementation rules. Indonesian law has no provision for no-religious civil marriages. The mixed-marriage coupes needs to pay attention to the legal issues. If something happen down the line, lack of legal requirements in your marriage will put you into unfavorable conditions. No law recognition to your marriage, will be considered no marriage at all. It will take effect to your divorce, division of marriage property, child custody, and alimony.

Religious Marriage

Indoensia's 1974 Marriage Law stipulates that marriage can be legally recognized if it is performed according to the religion of the couple. It makes Indonesia as the country that put religion as the main issue in marriage. Mixed-religion marriage is not allowed in Indonesia. Both spouses must have the same religion in order to get marry legally.

Once you have made the decision to marry in Indonesia, you must choose the type of religious ceremony that you intend to have. For Non-Moslem, you must hold church (or temple) ceremony first, and then record the marriage with Civil Registry Office. The Couple will experience two types of ceremonies. The religious part will first be performed followed by a civil ceremony. The civil registry will in turn issues a marriage certificate which is evidence that you are legally married. A Non-Moslem wedding which is not recorded with Civil Registry is not considered legal. There will be two certificates presented at the end of ceremony, one from the  church/temple, and the other from the Civil Registry Office.

If you have decided the marriage in Moslem ceremony, you must register you marriage at the local Office of Religious Affairs. Person wedded in a Moslem ceremony and issued a Marriage Book need not record their marriage with Civil Registry Office.

Civil Wedding

Considering Indonesian law has no provision for no-religious civil marriages, the couple who wish o perform civil wedding should provide the religious marriage certificate (i.e. Certificate of Marriage Solemnization) which means that they have done the religious marriage in their country(ies). Many foreigner tourists having their vacatioon and/or honeymoon in Indonesian, choose this route.

International Recognition

Mixed-marriage couple married in Indonesia should pay attention to this issue also, especially if they have married in Moslem Ceremony. The Moslem Marriage Book is accepted in United States and United Kingdom. But it is not accepted in several countries, to mention one of them is the Netherlands.

The immigration rules in Netherlands will require the Certificate of Attestation from Civil Registry Office. This is the certificate to show that the marriage has been registered with Civil Registry Office in order to register at the Civil Registry Office in  the Netherlands. In order to obtain this certificate, you need to submit supporting documents such as passport and visa, marriage books, and photograph (with groom on the right side).

Theoretically, this is may sounds very funny. Office of Religious Affairs and Civil Registry Office is the government institutions that have the same authorities in recording the marriage. But, in the field of pratice, you might face the walls if you don't have any clues at all. Otherwise, your plan to stay and live in overseas will not come together.

For example, if you go to the Surabaya Civil Registry Office, they will not willing to issue the Certificate of Attestation for Moslem Marriage Book, They don't even want to provide the letter of rejection. They find Office of Religious Affairs have the same position with them. So, it is not their authority to issue such certificate. I have seen a couple separated just because of this obstacle. Of course, we can not put pressure on Surabaya Office. According to the Regional Autonomy Law of 2004, the regulation for civil registry and population services is the sole resposible of local municipal. So, it is the authority of Surabaya Municipal that considers the Religious Affairs and Civil Registry have the same position. Legal breakthrough must be achieved if you want your case succeeded. A comprehensive study on Indonesian legal system must be perfomed. You can check with your Indonesian law specializing in mixed-marriage legal assistance regarding this case.

Other things you need to bring to your attention is document legalization. Immigration related documents require certifications or legalizations or authentications in order to be recognized internationally. The legalizations rules are different for different countries. Not all information is provided clearly and many regulations are different to other countries. This conflicting information is not a personal attack on you, it's typical of government bureaucracy all over the world. As we aware, the US rules specify that your certificate(s) should be less than a year old. As for the Netherlands rules, the certificate(s) should be less that five years. The process usually complicated and, in many cases the lack of time or expertise causes you delays and valuable time is lost. We can only begin to imagine how you must be feeling with the delays and the conflicting information from all involved. This is very distressing for you.

Indonesia is not a part of the Hague Convention, a group of nations joined to create a simplified method of legalizing documents for universal recognition, then you will need an Embassy Legalization to be valid internationally.

As a non-member of Hague Convention, the documents must full-fill certain requirements before the Embassy can legalized your documents. The documents should pass the procedures at the related government institutions in Indonesia, such as Notary Public certification, Civil Registry, Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs, and/or Department of Religion.

Marriage Legalization

The mixed-couple who have decided to get marry abroad, will not exempted by the law. The Marriage Law of 1974 stipulates that within one year after return to Indonesia, you must report the marriage to Civil Registry Office. You will then received a Surat Tanda Bukti Laporan Perkawinan (STBLP) or Overseas Marriage Registration.

This certificate is very important and will make your marriage recognized by the Indonesian laws. Even if you have decided not to stay in Indonesia, this certificate is a must-have document. You never knwo what will happen in the future and something make you move back again to Indonesia. By then, it will arise complication to your case. You need to get a court decree in order your marriage can be recorded at civil registry office. It will give you more hassles if your are deliverng a baby in Indonesia. You can not get the Foreign Birth Certificate for the baby if you do not possess STBLP. In addition to STBLP, it is also very important document if you would like to have property in Indonesia. Notary public will require Indonesian marriage certificate, whether it's an STBLP or regular marriage certificate. Your overseas marriage certificate will not be accepted because your marriage is not recognized by the Indonesian laws.

Marriage carried-out before 1974

The marriage carried-out before the year of 1974 was governed by Indonesian Civil Code. It is the Dutch ancient rules which divide people into classes i.e. Europe, Indonesian native (pribumi), Chinese, and Far Eastern (Arab and India).

This law was meant to be very specific according to who you are and where you come from. It did not treat people equal. The law sees the people through race, customs, and classes. Ubelievably, many of them are still valid and have not been revoked yet by the Indonesian government.

I am Asep Wijaya, Managing Director of Wijaya & Company Thank you for visiting my blogs and reading my posts.



The above is provided for informational purposes only and is NOT to be relied upon as legal advice. This information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney and should not be construed as a solicitation. No attorney-client relationship is established by use of information found anywhere in this article nor in this website.

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My name is Asep Wijaya. I am an attorney. This article is about my works in the field of law I have been doing regarding legal issues in international civil law in Indonesia. You may use my articles without permission as long as you mention my name, the article tile, and our website address.

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