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Lebanese Marriage Laws : Explained by Salah Mattar – Lebanese Attorney

When announced Friday, Succariyeh’s wedding to Nidal Darwish catapulted the issue of civil marriage in Lebanon back into the public eye. Opinion is divided on the union’s legality and feasibility given the absence of secular law surrounding the institution of marriage.

Interior Minister, Charbel said: “The Interior Ministry referred the marriage request to the Justice Ministry’s advisory panel, which studied the request and did not approve it due to the absence of a law that regulates civil marriage.”

Salah Mattar, an attorney at law with the Mattar Law Firm, which has expertise in family law, believes it is unlikely that Lebanon’s so-called first civil marriage will receive approval, and that even if it did, the simple registration of the marriage would not resolve the legal problems surrounding it.

Admitting that there are multiple legal texts relating to the matter, Mattar said that in this instance the document of significance is the Lebanese Code of Civil Procedure.

Under article 79 of this code, civil marriages executed overseas are recognized and governed by the law of the state in which they were conducted, but no mention is made of civil marriages in Lebanon. Effectively, this means that where civil marriage is concerned “there is an empty space that is not filled by laws,” he said.

“If you want to apply the civil marriage law [of Lebanon], there is no civil marriage law,” Mattar continued. “To make a case, you need to have a law. Suppose the minister accepted it [Succariyeh and Darwish’s marriage], what rules would apply? … There is no law regulating status except that applicable to the religious community.”

“You can remove your religion from your personal status record, but this does not mean you do not belong to the religious family. The system as it is does not allow you to be a person that has no religious attachment,” he added.

Ultimately, while the couple’s move “may be an incentive toward the implementation of civil marriage in Lebanon … from a legal and practical perspective, even if we would wish the contrary, it will be limited to a media propaganda,” Mattar had told The Daily Star even ahead of Charbel’s Monday remarks.

*Source: The Daily Star.

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