No laws in Kuwait prohibit anyone from contracting a marriage, especially if a couple faces no legal obstacles. According to attorney Ahmed Al-Mutairi, a family lawyer and a former judge at the Palace of Justice, there is no distinction in Kuwaiti law whether you are an expat on an article 18 or 20 visa, or a Kuwaiti. “There is no need for the sponsor’s consent if you decide to get married. Kuwait has the same law for everyone,” he said. “If you would like to solemnize your marriage, go directly to the Ahmadi or Riggae sharia/civil court with your documents. These two courts accept applications for civil marriage from people of any nationality,” he added.
This applies to Muslim and non-Muslims – the latter though are subject to some additional legal requirements. Both the husband and wife should be present during the ceremony at the civil court in the presence of two witnesses. They must submit copies of the following documents – civil ID, passport and the copy of residency stamped in the passport (for expats). “The burden of application is usually in the hands of the men. They are legally allowed to apply for a marriage certificate if they are of legal age, without the need for the consent of the parents. However, he is required to bring two male witnesses, or two females and one male,” Mutairi said.
Holders of article 20 visas don’t need consent from their sponsors. “There is no need for consent – the law is clear. If you love each other and there is no legal obstacle to contract a marriage, you can marry. Males under sharia law can take four wives, so there should not be any hindrances for marrying. Of course, if you are a male and would like to contract another marriage, the first wife should agree to the marriage. If the first wife doesn’t agree, it’s grounds for divorce. The man can apply for a divorce, and after examining the circumstances, the court will grant him a divorce,” he said.
Despite the law, many expats who marry are hounded by their sponsors. “There are cases filed by employers, but most of them are dismissed because the ruling is normally based on the laws of the land. If cases are filed, proper procedures are followed and eventually they are dismissed because there is no basis to hinder anyone from marrying if they are both of legal age,” Mutairi said.
“The man will only face a problem if the other party (female) is forced to marry him. If the woman accepts, then is no longer a legal impediment to the marriage. If the woman claims to have been raped, then a case will be lodged at the police station and the man will be punished. Appropriate penalties will be imposed and probably immediate deportation will follow,” he said.
If the wife agrees to continue working as a housemaid, she should complete the remaining period of her work contract, but is allowed to go to her husband’s place for marital duties. “She is allowed to work for eight hours in the house of her sponsor, and is free after that to go back to her husband. The law says she can work in the house from 7 am to 10 pm,” Mutairi explained.
He reiterated respecting Kuwaiti laws is the key to staying in Kuwait free from all legal issues. “Wherever you are in the world, you are subject to the governing rules and regulations of that particular country. Laws are implemented to maintain peace and harmony for everyone. If you disrespect the laws, a subsequent punishment is guaranteed. Do not challenge our laws and people in authority – they are required by law to protect the land and secure its safety and security. If you are a foreigner in Kuwait, follow the law of Kuwait, as we all desire to host you here safely and because we want you to return to your country happy. We want to preserve the morals and norms of Kuwait,” Mutairi concluded.
By Ben Garcia