What is the definition of marriage?

Marriage means the relationship between husband and wife after marriage (Article 3 of the Law on Marriage and Family).

The marriage relationship between husband and wife is established from the time of the marriage until the termination of the marriage. Often, the wedding ceremony is seen as the event that marks the official beginning of the marriage. However, in terms of the law, the marriage begins upon completion of the marriage registration.  This is when a husband-and-wife relationship is established between a man and woman that satisfies the legal requirements for marriage and is registered with the local competent authority.

Marriage is a voluntary relationship between the two parties. Both men and women have the right to decide on their own marriage, without being forced, deceived, or hindered. After getting married, the maintenance or termination of the marriage relationship is based on the voluntariness of each spouse. Concurrent with marriage are the entirety of marital personal and property rights and obligations.

The purpose of establishing a marriage relationship is to live together and build a prosperous, equal, progressive, happy and sustainable family. Therefore, should a man and woman get married for the purpose of exiting, entering, establishing residence, obtaining Vietnamese or foreign nationality, enjoying the State’s preferential regime, or to achieve other purposes other than living together and building a family is considered a sham marriage. The 2014 Law on Marriage and Family prohibits sham marriages. (Article 5 of the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family).

Unlike the 2000 Law on Marriage and Family, the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family does not recognize common law marriage (a man and woman living together as husband and wife but do not register their marriage).

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