Niue - Age of Sexual Consent

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Marriage: Frequently Asked Questions

What is marriage?
Can anyone get married?
What can I do if I want to get married but my parents will not give their permission?
Are all types of marriage recognised by the law and the Courts?
How does it affect me?
What do I have to do to get lawfully married?
Do I have to be married in the Marriage Officer’s Office?
What do you mean by the term NULLITY?
The Court will declare a marriage a nullity where either party can show at the time of the marriage:

What is marriage?

Marriage is the voluntary union (joining) of one man to one woman to the exclusion of all others. The consent of the
future husband and wife must be real and not forced.

This means that you can only have one legal marriage to one other person of the opposite sex. Both parties must enter
the marriage voluntarily. If either is being forced into the marriage then the marriage can be declared a Nullity (of no legal

Can anyone get married?

The minimum legal age for marriage in Niue with consent of at least one parent is;

15 years old for females
18 years for males

To marry without parental consent (agreement) you have to be over 21 years of age in the case of a man and 19 years of
age for a woman.

What can I do if I want to get married but my parents will not give their

Permission may be obtained from a Judge of the High Court if consent is "unreasonably withheld" by a parent or
guardian. i.e. the parents have no valid (good) reasons to withold their consent. In order to proceed without complying
with the consent of parents you need to apply to the High Court to see the Judge. You will need to file documents at the
High Court Registry Office asking for special permission to marry.

You will need to prepare a form and take it to the High Court Registry. If the Judge is satisfied that neither of your
parents are alive, or that consent is being withheld unreasonably by the parents, the parents are unable to give their
consent or they are incapable, then the Judge may allow the marriage to go ahead without this requirement.

A Judge would not grant an order unless the parents of the applicants were given an opportunity to state their reasons
for the withholding of consent.

Are all types of marriage recognised by the law and the Courts?

Only legal marriages are recognised in Niue as being valid marriages (see further information on marriage). Most
communities have religious ceremonies of marriage in addition to the legal ceremony which has to be officiated (legally
conducted) by a Marriage Officer. This includes any Judge or Commissioner of the High Court, the Registrar of the High
Court or Land Court. In practice most religious leaders are also marriage officers and can conduct both legal and
religious ceremonies. They are appointed marriage officers by the Cabinet. In Niue a traditional marriage would not be
recognised by the Courts because the law does not recognise marriages that are not performed by a marriage officer.
This means that women who have been so married are unable to obtain a legally recognised divorce, maintenance for
themselves or any other order from the Court which is dependent upon there being a legally recognised marriage. The
law only provides for maintenance for legally married women.

How does it affect me?

If you are a wife within a marriage that is not recognised by the law, the law calls you a de facto wife (a wife in fact as
opposed to wife in law). You should be concerned because the lack of legal recognition for such marriages has the effect
that if you separate from your de facto husband you and possibly your children are denied what little protection the law
has to offer to lawfully married women.

What do I have to do to get lawfully married?

You will have to give Notice of your intended marriage, on a form that you can get from the marriage officer. Once
completed, you take the form together with any consent, if necessary, to the officer and pay any prescribed fee. This
Notice must be given at least 2 days before your are due to be married. The marriage officer will then make this notice
public and after the notice period has finished you can ask the Officer to marry you. You can now go through the
marriage ceremony.

Do I have to be married in the Marriage Officer’s Office?

No. The law does not say where the ceremony can be performed and therefore it could be performed in any place. This
means that as long as the marriage officer is willing to do so you can have the legal ceremony performed at your house,
in your garden, in the village and obviously in a Church if the priest is a marriage officer. However, you must have two
witnesses to the marriage.

What do you mean by the term NULLITY?

Nullity of Marriage is the legal process which is used to obtain an order from the Court either to say that the marriage
never existed in law (Void) or that there was something wrong at the time of the marriage and the Court should now
declare it to be of no legal effect.

The Court will declare a marriage a nullity where either party can show at the time
of the marriage:

One of the parties was already married
The parties were related too closely by blood or marriage
The marriage was not conducted in the way the Niue Act says it should
Either party did not freely agree to the marriage; Either party was not old enough.
One of the parties was incapable of sexual intercourse
One of the parties was suffering from an unsound mind or was mentally defective
One of the parties was suffering from a Venereal Disease in a communicable form
The wife was pregnant by someone other than the husband.

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