Germany to allow church-only marriages from next year

4th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

From next year, Germans can marry without visiting a registry office for the first time in 130 years

Berlin -- German couples will soon be able to get married in church without going through a civil ceremony in the registry office for the first time in 130 years.

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung uncovered the detail in a little-noticed piece of legislation that becomes law on January 1st next year and published details on Thursday.

Previously, priests had faced the possibility of jail or being fined for marrying couples who had not concluded a civil marriage before going to the altar, although in recent years the offence has been treated as a minor misdemeanour.

Civil marriages were introduced in Germany in 1875, the relevant legislation providing for a three-month jail term for priests who married couples without first going to the registry office.

The penalty was raised to five years under the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.

Couples choosing to tie the knot in church only from the beginning of next year should, however, beware.

Their marriage has little legal force: rights of inheritance, tax advantages, support in case of divorce and other standard rights of next-of-kin cannot be legally enforced.


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