PR 03130.156 Honduras

A. PR 82-049 Marriage — Cohabitation And Reputation (Including Common-Law Marriage) — Honduras

DATE: October 25, 1982

1. SYLLABUS

While the Constitution of Honduras acknowledges de facto unions between persons able to marry and provides that the “law shall regulate the conditions under which it shall produce the effects of civil marriage,” these “conditions” do not appear to have been provided by legislation or construed by court decision. Thus, it would appear that common-law marriage in Honduras is merely a constitutional proposition at present and that the only valid marriage which produces full civil effects is one performed before a competent official and recorded in the Civil Registry. (D~, Gregorio, ~, GC(S~) to DIO, 10/25/82)

2. OPINION

You ask whether “common-law” marriages are valid under the laws of Honduras. The claimant and the wage earner in this case, who are residents of Honduras, began living together in 1976.

At our request, the Hispanic Law Division, Library of Congress, researched the laws of Honduras with respect to common-law marriage and reported as follows:

“In regard to marriage, the Charter of June 3, 1965 [La Gaceta, June 12, 1965], in force as of June 6 of the same year, provided the following:

'Art. ll0. The only valid marriage is one performed before the competent officials and duly recorded in the Office of the Civil Registry. The law shall regulate its formalities.

'Art. lll. A de facto union between per- sons legally able to marry is acknowledged. The law shall regulate the conditions under which it shall produce the effects of civil marriage.'

“The current Charter of January ll, 1982,'in force as of January 20, 1982, contains the same basic principles:

'Art. ll2. The right of a man and a woman to marry and the legal equality of the spouses is hereby acknowledged. A valid marriage is one performed before the competent officials according to the conditions established by law. The de facto union between persons legally able to marry is acknowledged. The law shall regulate the conditions under which it shall produce the effects of civil marriage' [Decree No. 131 of January ll, 1982, of the National Constitutional Assembly (Unofficial version published in Tiempo, January 27, 1982, sec. B)].

“A search of the Index to Latin American Legislation as well as other legal sources did not produce any statutes regulating common-law marriage (as provided by the Constitution) or court decisions construing these provisions. Therefore, common-law marriage appears to be a constitutional proposition indicating the intent of the legislature to give de facto unions legal effects - an intent which has not been carried out by the enactment of subsequent legislation.” *_/

Thus, it appears that under current Honduran law, the only valid marriage which produces full civil effects is one that is performed before a competent official and recorded in the Civil Registry. Although a de facto union is “acknowledged” in the Constitution of Honduras, the “conditions under which it shall produce the effects of civil marriage” do not appear to have been provided by legislation or construed by any court decisions. Therefore, a common-law marital relationship apparently does not create a valid marriage under the laws of Honduras.

*_/

The Honduran social security laws and Labor Code give limited recognition to de facto unions for certain benefit purposes. The Honduran Regulation on Compulsory Social Security, La Gaceta, February 16, 1972, gives the concubine of a worker the same rights as a wife under the program if she has been registered as a dependent by the worker, id. art. 151, and provides that the widow or concubine will receive a life pension after the worker's death. Id. art. 104. Also, the Labor Code pro- vides that in case of the worker's death, the spouse or concubine is entitled to compensation. Codigo del Trabajo, art. 421 (Ed. oficial, Tegucigalpa, Tipografia Nacional, 1959). A follow-up discussion with the legal specialist from the Hispanic Law Division indicated that Honduran law does not, however, grant the concubine (or the putative spouse of a de facto union) inheritance rights in the intestate personal property of the other party to the relationship.


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PR 03130.156 - Honduras - 03/18/2008
Batch run: 01/27/2009
Rev:03/18/2008