There’s no doubt summer is the height of wedding season in the UK, but just how much does the nation know about one of the biggest legal contracts they will ever enter?
The University of Law, the UK's longest-established specialist provider of legal education and training, has reviewed some of the world’s strangest marriage laws, and polled 2,000 UK residents¹ to see if the nation can spot which laws are real, and which are fake.
When it comes to UK weddings, three-quarters of the nation (75%) thought the law that “couples in England and Wales must specify a room within a building for the ceremony to take place – not in the open air or under a marquee” was untrue, when it is in fact a condition to gain approval of premises for civil marriage and partnership. Couples wishing for a garden wedding must have the legal ceremony separately before or after the big day.
Another UK law that the nation struggled to identify as real, was about the requirements for a legally granted divorce. This law has recently been under fire thanks to a selection of high profile cases, but as it stands, the only way to successfully achieve a divorce is if one party takes the blame for the marriage falling apart – a fact over half (58%) thought was false.
On the other side of the spectrum, for those successful marriages racking up 65 years together, more than one in ten (12%) believed a marriage license renewal was required in the eyes of the law – a statement which is not true in the UK.
It’s not just strange UK marriage laws that confused the nation though, the survey also included several real and fake marriage laws from around the world to test the nation’s knowledge. Probably the most baffling being the law which states women in Saudi Arabia have legal grounds for divorce if their husband fails to bring them a fresh cup of joe in the morning, a fact that more than four in five (86%) didn’t know.
Others that stumped the nation include the Russian law which makes it illegal for the groom’s family to contribute to the wedding costs, a law two thirds (65%) of those asked weren’t familiar with, and Austria’s legal requirement for couples to court a minimum of five years before they’re allowed to tie the knot - something three quarters (75%) failed to know.
Probably the strangest of marriage laws in the United States is one surprisingly known by 44% of Brits - married couples in Massachusetts are not legally allowed to sleep nude in a rented room. Similarly, 44% knew that in Kansas, the mistreatment of mothers-in-law can be used as grounds for divorce.
When it comes to who American citizens choose to marry, California residents are legally allowed to marry their first cousins, a fact Brits couldn’t get there heads around. When asked, 49% said they thought this was true if they’re both single by the age of 35, with the remaining 61% failing to believe this is permitted at all.
Commenting on the results, Lysette Gauna, Head of Brand & Content Marketing at The University of the Law, said: “It’s interesting to see some of the weird and wonderful laws that exist both here at home and all over the world, some of which sound as though they should be completely fictional.
“A lot of us like to think we know our facts when it comes to the law, so we wanted to build this quiz to test any potential legal experts out there on some of the more obscure laws that exist across the globe.”