The current status in our law is that anybody who is 18 years or older may enter into marriage or a civil union without any consent from another person. Conventional marriages between minors are possible but special rules apply.
The minimum age to marry for boys is 14 years old and for girls is 12 years old.
The requirements in the event that the parties are still minors are as follows:
1) Written permission of all the guardians must be obtained by the minors before they can be
2) All minors younger than the age of 15 also need to obtain written consent from the Minister of Home Affairs.
It is also important to know that guardians or parents may retract their permission before the wedding.
In the event that any one of the minors who intend to get married does not have a guardian or parent who can assist them with providing the necessary consent or in the event that consent is willfully refused you are required to approach a legal representative in order to obtain a court order, granting the necessary consent.
It is further important to understand that in the event that any minor gets married without obtaining the necessary consent from the legal guardian or parent, than the guardian or parent may ratify the marriage afterwards. However, if the parents are unhappy about the marriage, they may apply to the High Court, which is the only court with the necessary jurisdiction to have the marriage dissolved.
The above mentioned application must be brought within six weeks after learning about the marriage and while the minor is still under the age of 18. The Court will base its decision on the best interest of the minor, when adjudicating over the application.
A minor who was married without the consent of the parents or guardians may also apply for the dissolution of the marriage up to three months after turning 18, if no such application is lodged, the marriage will be regarded as valid and legal.
Asylum seekers and refugees are permitted to get married in South Africa provided they meet the Home Affairs marriage requirements. They must also present Home Affairs with a valid asylum seeker/refugee permit, along with a declaration from the police confirming their marital status.
The following persons may not marry at all:
1) People who are already married; and
2) Mentally ill persons.
Take note that persons related to each other within certain prohibited degrees (e.g. brother and sister, or mother-in-law and son-in-law), may not marry each other.
The above mentioned written consent is also applicable when the parties to be married enters into an anti-nuptial agreement i.e. if the marriage is out of community of property and it is advised that the parties before getting married together with the parents and/or guardians approach a legal professional who is an admitted notary for assistance.
What is required when applying for a marriage certificate at Home affairs:
To begin the process, you must first register an intention to marry with the Department of Home Affairs and apply for a marriage certificate.
Couples must apply for a Department of Home Affairs marriage certificate at least three months prior to your intended wedding date, this is normally done by the church where you intend to get married, but you are advised to make sure that same is done.
Home affairs marriage forms are available on request and should be submitted with the relevant supporting documentation as follows:
· Identification documents, such as a South African ID card
· Both passports, if one partner is not South African
· A complete BI-31 form, which declares that you are legally allowed to marry
· Minors under the age of 18 must present written consent from both parents, and/or Form DHA-32. For boys under the age of 18 and girls under the age of 15, written consent from the Minister of Home Affairs is also required
· Official divorce decree, stamped by the court, if one partner has previously been married
· Death certificate, if one partner has been widowed
Abridged marriage certificates are free of charge for first-time applicants; subsequent copies may require a small fee, such as R75 for unabridged marriage certificates.
· Everyone’s Guide to South African Law, 3rd Edition, AM Anderson, A. Dodd, MC Roos