CHAPTER 29
LAW OF MARRIAGE ACT

[PRINCIPAL LEGISLATION]

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

   Section

Title

PART I
PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS

(a) General

   1.   Short title.

   2.   Interpretation.

(b) Appointments

   3.   Appointment of Registrar-General, Deputy and Assistant Registrars-General.

   4.   Appointment of registration areas.

   5.   Appointment of district registrars.

   6.   Appointment of registrars.

   7.   Appointment of registration officers.

   8.   Appointment of registrars for foreign countries.

PART II
MARRIAGE

(a) The Nature of Marriage

   9.   Meaning of marriage.

   10.   Kinds of marriage.

   11.   Conversion of marriages.

   12.   Duration of marriage.

(b) Restrictions on Marriage

   13.   Minimum age.

   14.   Prohibited relationships.

   15.   Subsisting marriage.

   16.   No marriage save of free will.

   17.   Requirement of consent.

(c) Preliminaries to Marriage

   18.   Notice of intention to marry.

   19.   Publication of notice of intention.

   20.   Notice of objection.

   21.   Procedure on notice of objection.

   22.   Determination of objection.

   23.   Power of Registrar-General to dispense with requirement of notice.

   24.   Lodging of objections with Registrar-General.

(d) Contracting of Marriage

   25.   Manner of contracting marriage.

   26.   Time for contracting marriage.

   27.   Witnesses.

   28.   Marriage to be public.

   29.   Procedure for marriages in civil form.

   30.   Marriages according to religious rites and licensing of ministers.

   31.   Power of Registrar-General to authorise marriages in places not otherwise permissible.

   32.   Duty of kadhis and registration officers to attend marriages.

   33.   Issue of marriage certificate or transmission of statement of particulars.

   34.   Marriages in Tanzanian Embassies, etc., abroad.

   35.   Issue of certificates of no impediment.

   36.   Recognition of marriages contracted abroad.

   37.   Recognition of marriages contracted in Embassies, etc., in Tanzania.

(e) Void Ceremonies, Voidable Marriages and Legitimacy

   38.   Void ceremonies.

   39.   Voidable marriages.

   40.   Voidable marriage valid until annulled.

   41.   Matters not affecting validity.

PART III
REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGES, ANNULMENTS AND DIVORCES AND EVIDENCE OF MARRIAGE

   42.   Maintenance of marriage registers.

   43.   Duty to register marriages and procedure to be followed.

   44.   Registration of subsisting unregistered marriages.

   45.   Registration of marriages contracted abroad.

   46.   Returns to be sent to Registrar-General.

   47.   Completed registers to be sent to Registrar-General.

   48.   Maintenance of index, searches, inspection and copies.

   49.   Maintenance of register of annulments and divorces.

   50.   Copies of decrees of annulment and divorce to be sent to Registrar-General.

   51.   Registration of foreign annulments and divorces.

   52.   Endorsement of marriage registers.

   53.   Correction of errors.

   54.   Power of Minister to restrict provisions relating to registration.

   55.   Evidence of marriage.

PART IV
PROPERTY, RIGHTS, LIABILITIES AND STATUS

   56.   Rights and liabilities of married women.

   57.   Equality between wives.

   58.   Separate property of husband and wife.

   59.   Special provisions relating to matrimonial home.

   60.   Presumptions as to property acquired during marriage.

   61.   Gifts between husband and wife.

   62.   No liability for antecedent debts of spouse.

   63.   Duty to maintain spouse.

   64.   Presumption of wife's authority to pledge her husband's credit, etc.

   65.   Husband and wife and the law of tort.

   66.   No right of spouse to inflict corporal punishment.

   67.   Agreements to live apart.

   68.   Status of widows.

PART V
MISCELLANEOUS RIGHTS OF ACTION

   69.   Right to damages for breach of promise of marriage.

   70.   Limitation of actions for breach of promise.

   71.   Right to return of gifts.

   72.   Right to damages for adultery.

   73.   Right to damages for enticement.

   74.   Assessment of damages for adultery or enticement.

   75.   Jurisdiction of primary courts.

PART VI
MATRIMONIAL PROCEEDINGS

(a) Jurisdiction, Procedure and General Provisions

   76.   Jurisdiction of courts.

   77.   Right to invoke jurisdiction.

   78.   Transfer of proceedings.

   79.   Power of magistrate to state case.

   80.   Appeals.

   81.   Form of proceedings.

   82.   Alternative reliefs.

   83.   Cross-prayers for relief.

   84.   Petitions to be heard in open court.

   85.   Connivance.

   86.   Condonation.

   87.   Power of court to dismiss proceedings on account of non-disclosure.

   88.   Mutual decrees not to be granted.

   89.   Abolition of decree nisi.

   90.   Costs in matrimonial proceedings.

   91.   Recognition of decrees of foreign courts.

   92.   Recognition of extra-territorial divorces.

   93.   Special provisions regulating proceedings in primary courts.

(b) Declaratory Decrees

   94.   Power of court to grant declaratory decrees.

   95.   Effect of declaratory decrees.

(c) Annulment

   96.   Power of court to annul a voidable marriage.

   97.   Parties to petition for annulment.

   98.   Effect of decree of annulment.

(d) Separation and Divorce

   99.   Right to petition for separation or divorce.

   100.   Restriction on petition for divorce during first two years of marriage.

   101.   Requirement of prior reference to Board.

(e) Marriage Conciliation Boards

   102.   Conciliation Boards.

   103.   Composition and jurisdiction of Boards.

   104.   Proceedings of Boards.

(f) Petitions and Determination

   105.   Parties to petitions.

   106.   Contents of petitions.

   107.   Evidence that marriage has broken down.

   108.   Duties of court on petition for separation or divorce.

   109.   Power of court on claim to damages for adultery.

   110.   Power of court to grant decree of separation or divorce.

   111.   Effect of decree of separation.

   112.   Effect of decree of divorce.

   113.   Power of court to set aside or vary decrees of separation.

(g) Division of Assets and Maintenance as between Husband and Wife

   114.   Power of court to order division of matrimonial assets.

   115.   Power of court to order maintenance for spouse.

   116.   Assessment of maintenance.

   117.   Power of court to order security for maintenance.

   118.   Compounding maintenance.

   119.   Duration of orders for maintenance.

   120.   Right to maintenance to cease on remarriage.

   121.   Power of court to vary orders for maintenance.

   122.   Power of court to vary agreements for maintenance.

   123.   Maintenance payable under order of court to be inalienable.

   124.   Recovery of arrears of maintenance and enforcement of maintenance orders.

(h) Custody and Maintenance of Children

   125.   Power of court to make order for custody.

   126.   Orders subject to conditions.

   127.   Declaratory order as to unfitness of parent to have custody.

   128.   Custody of children deemed legitimate.

   129.   Duty to maintain children.

   130.   Power of court to order maintenance for children.

   131.   Power of court to order security for maintenance.

   132.   Duration of orders for custody and maintenance.

   133.   Power of court to vary orders for custody or maintenance.

   134.   Power of court to vary agreement for custody or maintenance.

   135.   Recovery of arrears of maintenance.

   136.   Court to have regard to advice of welfare officers, etc.

   137.   Power of court to restrain taking of infant out of Tanzania.

(i) Other Reliefs

   138.   Power of court to set aside and prevent dispositions intended to defeat claims to maintenance.

   139.   Injunctions against molestation.

   140.   No proceeding to compel cohabitation.

(j) Reciprocal Arrangements for Enforcement of Maintenance Orders

   141.   Reciprocal arrangements with other countries for enforcement of maintenance orders.

   142.   Registration of orders made in other countries.

   143.   Enforcement of registered orders.

   144.   Transmission of orders made in Tanzania.

PART VII
OFFENCES

   145.   False statement in notice of intention to marry or in notice of objection.

   146.   Failure to attend before Board.

   147.   Giving false testimony, etc., before Board.

   148.   Minimum age.

   149.   Prohibited relationship.

   150.   Prohibited ceremony.

   151.   Coercion, fraud, etc.

   152.   Polyandry and similar offences.

   153.   Ceremony performed by unauthorised official.

   154.   Absence of witness.

   155.   Irregular marriages.

   156.   Meaning of participation.

   157.   Failing to apply for registration.

   158.   Unlawful attempt to prevent marriage.

PART VIII
MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

   159.   Presumption of validity of registered marriage.

   160.   Presumption of marriage.

   161.   Presumption of death.

   162.   Rules and regulations.

   163.   Repeal of certain laws.

   164.   Amendment of certain laws.

   165.   Saving.

   166.   Amendment.

   167.   Translation of Act into Kiswahili.

SCHEDULES

CHAPTER 29
THE LAW OF MARRIAGE ACT

An Act to regulate the law relating to marriage, personal and property rights as between husband and wife, separation, divorce and other matrimonial reliefs and other related matters.

[12th February, 1971 - s. 166
and 1st May, 1971 - s. 1]

Act No. 5 of 1971
G.N. No. 109 of 1971
Acts Nos.
23 of 1973
15 of 1980
9 of 1996

PART I
PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS (ss 1-8)

(a) General (ss 1-2)

1.   Short title

   This Act may be cited as the Law of Marriage Act.

2.   Interpretation

   (1) In this Act, except where the context otherwise requires–

   "adopted child" means a child adopted in accordance with the provisions of the Adoption of Children Act *, and references in this Act to adoption shall be construed accordingly;

   "Board" means a Marriage Conciliation Board established under the provisions of section 102;

   "child" includes an adopted child;

   "court" means any Court having jurisdiction under section 76;

   "decree" includes a decree of a foreign court which is recognised as effective under section 91;

   "dowry" means any payment of stock, goods, money or other property made or promised in consideration of an intended marriage;

   "infant" or "infant child" means a child who has not attained the age of eighteen years;

   "kadhi" means a Muslim priest or preacher or a leader of a Muslim community who has been licensed under this Act to celebrate marriages in Islamic form;

   "marriage" has the meaning attributed to it in section 9, and any reference to a marriage means a marriage whether contracted before or after the commencement of this Act and whether contracted in Tanzania or elsewhere;

   "matrimonial home" means the building or part of a building in which the husband and wife ordinarily reside together and includes–

   (a)   where a building and its curtilage are occupied for residential purposes only, that curtilage and any outbuildings thereon; and

   (b)   where a building is on or occupied in conjunction with agricultural land, any land allocated by the husband or the wife, as the case may be, to his or her spouse for her or his exclusive use;

   "matrimonial proceeding" means any proceeding instituted under Parts II and VI of this Act or any comparable proceeding brought under any written law repealed by this Act, in any court;

   "minimum age" in relation to marriage, has the meaning attributed to it in section 13;

   "Minister" means the Minister responsible for legal affairs;

   "minister of religion" means any minister, priest or other person who is empowered to celebrate marriages by the laws of any religion according to the rites of which marriages may be celebrated under the provisions of this Act, and includes a kadhi;

   "party" in relation to a marriage or intended or purported marriage, means the husband or the wife or the intended or purported husband or wife, as the case may be;

   "prohibited relationship" has the meaning attributed to it in section 14;

   "religion" means, in the case of any system of religious belief which is divided into denominations, sects or school, any such denomination, sect or school and includes any non-denominational body or other association of a religious nature;

   "specified religion" means Christianity or a religion specified in an order made by the Minister under the provisions of section 25;

   "ward" means a ward established under the Local Government (District Authorities) Act * or the Local Government (Urban Authorities) Act *.

   (2) Reference in this Act to a monogamous marriage includes a marriage originally polygamous or potentially polygamous the character of which has been converted to monogamous by declaration made under section 11 and a reference to a polygamous or potentially polygamous marriage shall be given the corresponding interpretation.

(b) Appointments (ss 3-8)

3.   Appointment of Registrar-General, Deputy and Assistant Registrars-General G.N. No. 109 of 1971">

   (1) The President shall appoint a public officer to be Registrar-General of Marriages and Divorces for the purposes of this Act.

   (2) There shall be a Deputy Registrar-General and as many Assistant Registrars-General of Marriages and Divorces as the Minister shall consider necessary.

4.   Appointment of registration areas

   The Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, appoint any area of Tanzania to be a registration area for the purposes of this Act.

5.   Appointment of district registrars

   (1) There shall be a district registrar for each registration area and as many assistant district registrars as the Minister shall consider necessary.

   (2) In the absence or during the illness or incapacity of the district registrar, the senior assistant district registrar for the time being stationed in the registration area shall act as a registrar.

   (3) District registrars and assistant district registrars may be appointed individually by name or collectively as the holders of specified public offices.

   (4) The Registrar-General may, by writing under his hand, delegate any of his functions under this Act to a district registrar.

6.   Appointment of registrars

   Every district registrar and every kadhi and minister of religion who is licensed under section 30 shall be a registrar for the purposes of this Act.

7.   Appointment of registration officers

   (1) There shall be registration officers for such areas as the Minister may decide, to perform duties as may be prescribed and generally to assist district registrars in the administration of the provisions of this Act.

   (2) Registration officers may be appointed individually by name or collectively as the holders of specific public offices.

8.   Appointment of registrars for foreign countries

   (1) The Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, appoint any member of the diplomatic staff of the United Republic in any country to which this section applies, either individually by name or as the holder of a public office, to be the registrar for the purposes of this Act in respect of that country.

   (2) The Minister shall, by notice in the Gazette, designate the countries to which this section applies.

   (3) This section shall apply to any country which has notified the Government of the United Republic that it does not disapprove of the contracting of marriages at the Embassy, High Commission or consulate of the United Republic in that country.

PART II
MARRIAGE (ss 9-41)

(a) The Nature of Marriage (ss 9-12)

9.   Meaning of marriage

   (1) Marriage means the voluntary union of a man and a woman, intended to last for their joint lives.

   (2) A monogamous marriage is a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

   (3) A polygamous marriage is a union in which the husband may, during the subsistence of the marriage, be married to or marry another woman or women.

10.   Kinds of marriage

   (1) Marriages shall be of two kinds, that is to say–

   (a)   those that are monogamous or are intended to be monogamous; and

   (b)   those that are polygamous or are potentially polygamous.

   (2) A marriage contracted in Tanzania whether contracted before or after the commencement of this Act, shall–

   (a)   if contracted in Islamic form or according to rites recognised by customary law in Tanzania, be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to be polygamous or potentially polygamous; and

   (b)   in any other case, be presumed to be monogamous, unless the contrary is proved.

11.   Conversion of marriages

   (1) A marriage contracted in Tanzania may be converted–

   (a)   from monogamous to potentially polygamous; or

   (b)   if the husband has one wife only, from potentially polygamous to monogamous,

by a declaration made by the husband and the wife, that they each, of their own free will, agree to the conversion.

   (2) A declaration under subsection (1) shall be made in the presence of a judge, a resident magistrate or a district magistrate and shall be recorded in writing, signed by the husband and the wife and the person before whom it is made, at the time of its making.

   (3) The judge or magistrate before whom a declaration is made under this section shall forthwith transmit a copy thereof to the Registrar-General.

   (4) No marriage shall be converted from monogamous to potentially polygamous or from potentially polygamous to monogamous otherwise than by a declaration made under this section.

   (5) No marriage between two Christians which was celebrated in a church in Christian form may, for so long as both the parties continue to profess the Christian faith, be converted from monogamous to polygamous and the provisions of this section shall not apply to any such marriage, notwithstanding that the marriage was preceded or succeeded by a ceremony of marriage between the same parties in civil form or any other form.

12.   Duration of marriage

   A marriage, whether contracted in Mainland Tanzania or elsewhere, shall for all purposes of the law of Mainland Tanzania subsist until determined–

   (a)   by the death of either party thereto;

   (b)   by a decree declaring that the death of either party thereto is presumed;

   (c)   by a decree of annulment;

   (d)   by a decree of divorce; or

   (e)   by an extra-judicial divorce outside Tanzania which is recognised in Tanzania under the provisions of section 92.

(b) Restrictions on Marriage (ss 13-17)

13.   Minimum age

   (1) No person shall marry who, being male, has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years or, being female, has not attained the apparent age of fifteen years.

   (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), the court shall, in its discretion, have power, on application, to give leave for a marriage where the parties are, or either of them is, below the ages prescribed in subsection (1) if–

   (a) each party has attained the age of fourteen years; and

   (b)   the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances which make the proposed marriage desirable.

   (3) A person who has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years or fifteen years, as the case may be, and in respect of whom the leave of the court has not been obtained under subsection (2), shall be said to be below the minimum age for marriage.

14.   Prohibited relationships

   (1) No person shall marry his or her grandparent, parent, child or grandchild, sister or brother, great-aunt or great-uncle, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, as the case may be.

   (2) No person shall marry the grandparent or parent, child or grandchild of his or her spouse or former spouse.

   (3) No person shall marry the former spouse of his or her grandparent or parent, child or grandchild.

   (4) No person shall marry a person whom he or she has adopted or by whom he or she was adopted.

   (5) For the purposes of this section, relationship of the half blood shall be as much an impediment as relationship of the full blood and it shall be immaterial whether a person was born legitimate or illegitimate.

   (6) For the purposes of this section grandparent, grandchild, greatchild, great-uncle and great-aunt include, as the case may be, grandparent, grandchild great-uncle and great-aunt of any degree whatsoever.

   (7) Persons who are, by this section, forbidden to marry shall be said to be within the prohibited relationships.

15.   Subsisting marriage

   (1) No man, while married by a monogamous marriage, shall contract another marriage.

   (2) No man, while married by a polygamous or potentially polygamous marriage, shall contract a marriage in any monogamous form with any other person.

   (3) No woman who is married shall, while that marriage subsists, contract another marriage.

   (4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing the parties to a marriage to go through another ceremony of marriage:

   Provided that where parties who are already married go through another ceremony of marriage, such subsequent ceremony shall not, subject to the provisions of subsection (5) of section 11, affect the status or the legal consequences of their first marriage.

16.   No marriage save of free will

   (1) No marriage shall be contracted except with the consent, freely and voluntarily given, by each of the parties thereto.

   (2) For the purposes of this Act consent shall not be held to have been freely or voluntarily given if the party who purported to give it–

   (a)   was influenced by coercion or fraud;

   (b)   was mistaken as to the nature of the ceremony; or

   (c)   was suffering from any mental disorder or mental defect, whether permanent or temporary, or was intoxicated, so as not fully to appreciate the nature of the ceremony,

and references in this Act to "consent" or "consent freely given" in relation to a party to a marriage or an intended marriage shall be construed as meaning consent freely given and voluntarily.

17.   Requirement of consent

   (1) A female who has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years shall be required, before marrying, to obtain the consent–

   (a)   of her father; or

   (b)   if her father is dead, of her mother; or

   (c)   if both her father and mother are dead, of the person who is her guardian,

but in any other case, or if all those persons are dead, shall no require consent.

   (2) Where the court is satisfied that the consent of any person to a proposed marriage is being withheld unreasonably or that it is impracticable to obtain such consent, the court may, on application, give consent and such consent shall have the same effect as if it had been given by the person whose consent is required by subsection (1).

   (3) Where a marriage is contracted in Islamic form or in accordance with the rites of any specified religion or in accordance with the customary law rites, it shall be lawful for the kadhi, minister of religion or the registrar, as the case may be, to refuse to perform the ceremony if any requirement of the relevant religion or person other than a person mentioned in subsection (1) has not been complied with:

   Provided that nothing in this subsection shall be construed as empowering the kadhi, minister of religion or registrar to dispense with any requirement of subsection (1).

(c) Preliminaries to Marriage (ss 18-24)

18.   Notice of intention to marry

   (1) Subject to the provisions of section 23, where a man and a woman desire to marry, they shall, at least twenty-one days before the day when they propose to marry, give notice of their intention to a registrar or a registration officer.

   (2) A notice given under this section shall contain–

   (a)   the names and ages of the parties and the places where they reside;

   (b)   the names of the parents of the parties and the places where they reside;

   (c)   a statement that the parties are not within the prohibited relationships;

   (d)   where the intended wife is below the apparent age of eighteen years, the name of the person, if any, giving consent to the marriage or the reason why no such consent is being given;

   (e)   a statement in relation to each party that he or she is a bachelor or spinster, married, a widower or widow, or divorced, as the case may be and where either party is divorced, particulars of the divorce;

   (f)   a statement that the marriage is intended to be of monogamous or polygamous or potentially polygamous character, as the case may be;

   (g)   where the marriage is to be polygamous, the names of the wives of the husband;

   (h)   the date when and the place where the parties desire to marry; and

   (i)   where both the parties are Christians and it is intended to celebrate the marriage in a church in Christian form, a declaration by the intended husband that he is not already married to another woman,

and shall be signed by both parties and, where the consent of the court to the intended marriage has been obtained, the notice shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the order giving that consent.

19.   Publication of notice of intention

   It shall be the duty of a registrar or registration officer who receives a notice of intention to cause the intention to be made known locally by such means as may be prescribed and, until any regulations are made in that behalf, by such means as are customarily used to make known matters of public importance and by any other means he may consider desirable.

20.   Notice of objection

   (1) Any person may give notice of objection to the registrar or registration officer to whom the notice of intention was given, on the ground that he or she is aware of facts which, under the provisions of this Act, constitute an impediment to the intended marriage.

   (2) Where a man married under a polygamous marriage has given notice of an intended marriage, his wife or, if he has more than one wife, any of his wives may give notice of objection to the registrar or registration officer to whom the notice of intention was given, on the ground that–

   (a)   having regard to the husband's means, the taking of another wife is likely to result in hardship to his existing wife or wives and infant children, if any; or

   (b)   the intended wife is of notoriously bad character or is suffering from an infectious or otherwise communicable disease or is likely to introduce grave discord into the household.

   (3) A person who has given notice of objection may at any time withdraw it, but any such withdrawal shall be in writing, signed by him or her.

21.   Procedure on notice of objection

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