Marriage of US Citizens Abroad

Authored by , LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

If I Get Married Abroad Will My Marriage Be Valid in the United States?

As a general rule, a valid, legal marriage performed abroad is also valid and legal in the United States. The embassy or tourist information bureau of the country in which the marriage will happen is the best source of information about marriage in that country.

Are There Residency or Documentation Requirements for Getting Married Abroad?

Many marriages abroad are subject to the residency requirements of the country in which the marriage is to be performed. Most countries at least have documentation requirements, such as:

Note that the marriage documents must be presented to the marriage registrar well before the marriage occurs.

What about Parental Consent for the Marriage of Minors?

The age of majority for marriage varies from one country to another. Generally, persons under the age of 18 must present a written, notarized statement of consent from their parents. Some countries also require the parental consent statement to be authenticated by a consular official of that foreign country in the United States.

What Is the Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry Requirement?

All civil law countries require proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. This usually is a certification by competent authority that no impediment exists to the marriage. Some countries also require witnesses who will execute affidavits that the parties are free to marry. The United States does not have such a requirement. 

What Else Is Required to Get Married Abroad?

Many countries, like the United States, require blood tests.  Some countries require that documents presented to the marriage registrar be translated into the native language of that country.

What about My Nationality Status When I Get Married Abroad?

In some countries, marriage to a national of that country will automatically make the spouse either a citizen of that country or eligible to become naturalized in that country expeditiously.  The automatic acquisition of a second nationality will not affect U.S. citizenship.  However, naturalization in a foreign country on one's own application or the application of a duly authorized agent may cause you to lose U.S. citizenship.

Should I Contact an Attorney about Getting Married Abroad?

Getting married abroad can be a complicated process.  An experienced family lawyer can help you prepare any documents you need to make sure your foreign marriage is legal.  A family attorney can also help you establish your marriage status in the United States.

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Last Modified: 03-04-2014 12:41 PM PST

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