Family Law

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Age of Consent: For women, the age is 17 years; for men, it's 18 years. Persons wishing to register their marriage must be of "marriage age" on the date of the registration. Interestingly, the court may lower the age on consent to 14 years if it is found that such marriage satisfies the parties' interests.

Free Marriage: A marriage shall be based on a free consent of a woman and a man. Unlike some other areas in the world, forcing a woman and man into marriage is not permitted. Thus, an annulment is appropriate whenever a person is found to be legally incapable, or has not realized the significance of his/her actions and (or) somehow was unable to exercise his/her control. A woman and a man may enter into only one marriage at a time, and they have the right to remarry only after the previous marriage has been dissolved. 

Registration of Marriage: A marriage certificate attests to the state registration of marriage. Registration of marriage is established for two main reasons:

(1) to promote stable relations between a woman and a man, and

(2) to protect the rights and interests of married couples, their children and the interests of the State and society in general.

Registration of the State of Health: Persons who have filed an application for marriage registration must inform each other about the state of their physical health. The State ensures this by requiring medical examination of any persons who have filed an application for marriage registration. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is the governing body over marriage registrations, as well as over the medical examinations. Medical examination results are confidential and may be discussed only with those persons who filed the application for marriage registration. Importantly, concealing a serious physical disease or mental illness, either of which could be potentially dangerous to the other spouse and/or their descendants, is immediate grounds for declaring a marriage invalid. 

Documents Required for Marriage: At the official marriage ceremony, the validity of all documents below (with the exception of the passport) is six months as of the date of issuance by the relevant authority: 

  • Passport (translated into the Ukrainian language) 
  • Legalized birth certificate (also translated into Ukrainian)
  • Legalized document concerning the individual's current marital status
  • Legalized original divorce decree, if any

Application for Marriage Registration: The local department of Vital Statistics and Civil Status can process a marriage application for any Ukrainian national. Usually, a couple will file their application for marriage registration with their local authority. If, for valid reasons, one or both parties are unable to file the application for marriage registration with the PCSARA personally, then their legal representatives may instead submit an application that is certified by a notary. If a marriage is registered not on a specific day, then the application will remain valid for three months from the date of filing, awaiting finalization. 

Timing of Marriage Registrations: A marriage is registered one month from the application filing date. As an exception, should there be any serious reasons for an immediate marriage, the manager of the PCSARA may permit the registration of the marriage prior to the expiration of this time limit. In fact, if the bride appears to be pregnant or has already given birth, or if there is a real threat to the life of bride/groom, then the marriage is registered on the day of the application instead. Conversely, should the manager of the PCSARA know of any legal impediments to the marriage registration, they may choose to delay the marriage registration for a maximum of three months. Complaints concerning such delays can be appealed to the courts. 

Invalid Marriage: The following persons may not marry, and the marriage is deemed invalid, if the following scenarios apply:

  • Persons are related to one another by blood
  • Full-blood brothers and sisters have common parents; also, halfblood brothers and sisters, having one common parent
  • Cousins, aunts or uncles, nephews or nieces, related by blood
  • Relationships through adoptions, involving the natural child of an adopter and the child adopted, or between two adopted children 

"Cold feet": Persons who have filed an application for marriage registration are deemed to be "engaged". However, this engagement does not create an obligation to marry. If one person gets "cold feet", the reluctant party has the duty to reimburse to the other party any expenses that have been incurred in preparation for the marriage registration and wedding. Furthermore, if the person who withdraws has been offered a gift for the event of that future marriage, the deed of gift, upon the grantor's request must be returned. Note that expenses are not subject to reimbursement if the marriage is avoided due to the following reasons: 

  1. unlawful or immoral conduct on the part of the bride or fiancee, or
  2. by his/her hiding any circumstances of essential importance; for example, a serious illness, existence of a child, criminal record, etc.