Law of Marriage Act
- There are multiple commencements
- [This is the version of this document at 30 November 2019.]
|Part VIII, section 166||commenced on 12 February 1971.|
|Part I (section 1–8); Part II (section 9–41); Part III (section 42–55); Part IV (section 56–68); Part V (section 69–75); Part VI (section 76–144); Part VII (section 145–158); Part VIII, section 159–165, section 167||commenced on 1 May 1971.|
Part I – Preliminary provisions
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Law of Marriage Act.
3. Appointment of Registrar-General, Deputy and Assistant Registrars-General
4. Appointment of registration areasThe 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
6. Appointment of registrarsEvery 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
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 marriageA marriage, whether contracted in Mainland Tanzania or elsewhere, shall for all purposes of the law of Mainland Tanzania subsist until determined—
(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 intentionIt 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
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-GeneralAny person who has reason to believe that a marriage is intended and that there are good grounds for believing that a valid objection could be made to such marriage under section 20, may give notice of objection to the Registrar-General and where such notice is given, the Registrar-General shall not, unless such notice has been withdrawn, exercise his power under section 23 to dispense with the giving of the notice.
(d) Contracting of marriage
25. Manner of contracting marriage
26. Time for contracting marriageSubject to the provisions of section 23, at least twenty one days shall elapse between the giving of notice of intention to marry and the contracting of the intended marriage.
28. Marriage to be public
29. Procedure for marriages in civil formA marriage may be contracted in civil form in the presence of the district registrar in his office or in such other place as may have been authorised by licence issued under section 31, in the following manner—
30. Marriages according to religious rites and licensing of ministers
31. Power of Registrar-General to authorise marriages in places not otherwise permissibleThe Registrar-General may, if he is satisfied that there is some good and sufficient reason, by licence in the prescribed form, authorise—
32. Duty of kadhis and registration officers to attend marriagesIt shall be the duty—
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 abroadA marriage contracted outside Tanzania, other than a marriage contracted under section 34, shall be recognised as valid for all purposes of the law of Tanzania, if—
37. Recognition of marriages contracted in Embassies. etc., in TanzaniaA marriage contracted in any Embassy, High Commission or consulate in Tanzania of a country designated under subsection (2) of section 8 shall be recognised as valid for all purposes of the law of Tanzania, if—
(e) Void ceremonies, voidable marriages and legitimacy
38. Void ceremonies
39. Voidable marriagesSubject to the provisions of sections 97 and 98, a marriage shall be voidable if—
40. Voidable marriage valid until annulledA voidable marriage is for all purposes a valid marriage until it is annulled by a decree of the court.
41. Matters not affecting validityA marriage which in all other respects complies with the express requirements of this Act shall be valid for all purposes, notwithstanding—
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-GeneralWithin thirty days after the last day of every month, every registrar shall send to the Registrar-General a copy, certified to be a true copy of all entries made during that month in the register of marriages in his custody:Provided that, where two or more ministers of religion are maintaining one register, any of them may certify the copy required by this section.
47. Completed registers to be sent to Registrar-General
48. Maintenance of index, searches, inspection and copies
49. Maintenance of register of annulments and divorcesThe Registrar-General shall maintain a register of annulments and divorces and shall forthwith enter therein the prescribed particulars of all decrees of annulment and divorce sent to him under section 50 and of all decrees of annulment and divorce for the registration which application is made under section 51.
50. Copies of decrees of annulment and divorce to be sent to Registrar-GeneralEvery court which grants a decree of annulment or divorce shall forthwith send one copy of the decree, certified to be a true copy, to the Registrar-General, for registration.
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 registrationThe Minister shall, by notice published in the Gazette, have power to suspend the provisions of this Act relating to registration of marriages contracted according to rites recognised by customary law in relation to any registration area, to be specified in such notice, where he considers that adequate facilities for such registration do not exist.
55. Evidence of marriageThe following documents shall be admissible in evidence without proof in any court or before any person having power under any written law to receive evidence, as being prima facie evidence of the facts recorded therein—
Part IV – Property, rights, liabilities and status
56. Rights and liabilities of married womenA married woman shall have the same right as has a man to acquire, hold and dispose of property, whether movable or immovable, and the same right to contract, the same right to sue and the same liability to be sued in contract or in tort or otherwise.
57. Equality between wivesFor the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that, subject to the express provisions of any written law, where a man has two or more wives they shall as such, enjoy equal rights, be subject to equal liabilities and have equal status in law.
58. Separate property of husband and wifeSubject to the provisions of section 59 and to any agreement to the contrary that the parties may make, a marriage shall not operate to change the ownership of any property to which either the husband or the wife may be entitled or to prevent either the husband or the wife from acquiring, holding and disposing of any property.
59. Special provisions relating to matrimonial home
60. Presumptions as to property acquired during marriageWhere during the subsistence of a marriage, any property is acquired—
61. Gifts between husband and wifeWhere, during the subsistence of a marriage, either spouse gives any property to the other, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the property thereafter belongs absolutely to the donee.
62. No liability for antecedent debts of spouseSubject to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act, no person shall be liable for any debt contracted by his or her spouse prior to their marriage.[Cap. 25]
63. Duty to maintain spouseExcept where the parties are separated by agreement or by decree of the court and subject to any subsisting order of the court—
64. Presumption of wife’s authority to pledge her husband’s credit
65. Husband and wife and law of tortAs from the commencement of this Act—
66. No right of spouse to inflict corporal punishmentFor the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that, notwithstanding any custom to the contrary, no person has any right to inflict corporal punishment on his or her spouse.
67. Agreements to live apartThe parties to a marriage may, by writing signed by each other, agree to live apart and any such agreement, including any provisions as to maintenance, matrimonial property and the custody of the children, if any, of the marriage shall be valid and enforceable:Provided that, the court shall have power, whether the agreement was made before or after the coming into force of this Act and notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any such agreement, on the application of either party at any time and from time to time to vary or set aside any such provisions—
68. Status of widowsNotwithstanding any custom to the contrary, a woman whose husband has died shall be free—
Part V – Miscellaneous rights of action
69. Right to damages for breach of promise of marriage
70. Limitation of actions for breach of promiseNotwithstanding the provisions of any law regulating limitation of actions for the time being in force, no suit shall be brought for damages for the breach of a promise of marriage more than one year after the date of the breach.
71. Right to return of giftsA suit may be brought for the return of any gift made in contemplation of a marriage which has not been contracted, where the court is satisfied that it was made with the intention on the part of the giver that it should be conditional on the marriage being contracted, but not otherwise.
72. Right to damages for adultery
73. Right to damages for enticement
74. Assessment of damages for adultery or enticement
75. Jurisdiction of primary courtsA primary court shall have jurisdiction to entertain a suit under this Part where the parties were married in accordance with customary law or in Islamic form or, in the case of a suit under section 69 or section 71, if the court is satisfied that had the parties proceeded to marry they would have married in accordance with customary law or in Islamic form.[Act No. 15 of 1980 sch.]
Part VI – Matrimonial proceedings
(a) Jurisdiction, procedure and general provisions
76. Jurisdiction of courtsOriginal jurisdiction in matrimonial proceedings shall be vested concurrently in the High Court, a court of a resident magistrate, a district court and a primary court.
77. Right to invoke jurisdiction
78. Transfer of proceedingsWhere a matrimonial proceeding has been instituted in a magistrate’s court it shall be lawful, at any time before judgment, for the High Court, on the application of either of the parties or of the magistrate or on its own motion, to transfer the proceeding to itself or to some other magistrate’s court.
79. Power of magistrate to state caseA magistrate hearing a matrimonial proceeding may, at any stage of the proceeding state in the form of a special case for the opinion of the High Court or any question of law arising in the proceeding.
81. Form of proceedingsSubject to the provisions of section 93—
82. Alternative reliefsIt shall be lawful to include in any petition for matrimonial relief a prayer in the alternative for any other matrimonial relief.
83. Cross prayers for reliefThe respondent to any petition for matrimonial relief may include in his or her answer to the petition a cross-prayer for the same or any other form of matrimonial relief and the court shall have power to grant any relief on such cross-prayer that it might have granted on a petition for the relief sought.
84. Petitions to be heard in open courtAll petitions in matrimonial proceedings shall be heard in open court:Provided that—
85. ConnivanceEvidence of misconduct by a husband or a wife shall not be inadmissible in any matrimonial proceeding on the ground of connivance by the aggrieved spouse but no person shall be entitled to any relief by reason only of misconduct at which he or she has connived.
86. CondonationEvidence of misconduct by a husband or a wife shall not be inadmissible in any matrimonial proceeding on the ground that the misconduct was condoned by the aggrieved spouse.
87. Power of court to dismiss proceedings on account of non-disclosureThe court shall have power to dismiss any petition or application or make such other order as it may think fit, including an order as to costs, in any case where it is satisfied that the petitioner or applicant has attempted to deceive the court in any material respect or has wilfully failed to make a full disclosure of all relevant facts.
88. Mutual decrees not to be grantedIn any case where there is a cross-prayer or a cross-petition for matrimonial relief, the court shall not grant decrees in favour of both the petitioner and of the respondent, except as regards any ancillary relief.
89. Abolition of decree nisiFor the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that relief by way of annulment, separation or divorce may be granted by a single decree and a decree granting relief shall no longer be preceded by a decree nisi.
90. Costs in Matrimonial proceedings
91. Recognition of decrees of foreign courtsWhere a court of competent jurisdiction in any foreign country has passed a decree in any matrimonial proceeding, whether arising out of a marriage contracted in Tanzania or elsewhere, such decree shall be recognised as effective for all purposes of the law of Tanzania—
92. Recognition of extraterritorial divorcesWhere any person has obtained a divorce, otherwise than by decree of a court in Tanzania, in any foreign country, the divorce shall be recognised as effective for all purposes of the law of Tanzania, if—
93. Special provisions regulating proceedings in primary courtsNotwithstanding the provisions of this Act, and subject to any rules made hereunder, where any matrimonial proceeding is instituted in a primary court, it may be instituted, tried and disposed of in the same manner as any civil proceeding instituted in a primary court and the provisions of the Magistrates’ Courts Act, and of any rules made thereunder regulating the institution, hearing and disposal of a proceeding of a civil nature in primary courts shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to every such matrimonial proceeding.[Cap. 11]
(b) Declaratory decrees
94. Power of court to grant declaratory decrees
95. Effect of declaratory decrees
96. Power of court to annul 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 divorceSubject to the provisions of sections 77, 100 and 101, any married person may petition the court for a decree of separation or divorce on the ground that his or her marriage has broken down but no decree of divorce shall be granted unless the court is satisfied that the breakdown is irreparable.
100. Restriction on petition for divorce during first two years of marriage
101. Requirement of prior reference to BoardNo person shall petition for divorce unless he or she has first referred the matrimonial dispute or matter to a Board and the Board has certified that it has failed to reconcile the parties:Provided that, this requirement shall not apply in any case—
(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 divorceIt shall be the duty of a court hearing a petition for a decree of 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 separationA decree of separation shall relieve the parties of the duty to cohabit and to render each other help and companionship and, except so far as the decree otherwise provides, of the duty to maintain each other, but shall not dissolve their marital status.
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 maintenanceIn determining the amount of any maintenance to be paid by a man to his wife or former wife or by a woman to her husband or former husband, the court shall base its assessment primarily on the means and needs of the parties but shall have regard also—
117. Power of court to order security for maintenanceThe court may, in its discretion when awarding maintenance, order the person liable to pay such maintenance to secure the whole or any part of it by vesting any property in trustees upon trust to pay such maintenance or part thereof out of the income from such property and, subject thereto, in trust for the settlor.
118. Compounding maintenanceAn agreement for the payment, in money or other property, of a capital sum in settlement of all future claims to maintenance, shall not be effective until it has been approved or approved subject to conditions, by the court, but when so approved shall be a good defence to any claim for maintenance.
119. Duration of orders for maintenanceSave where an order for maintenance is expressed to be for any shorter period or where any such order has been rescinded, every order for maintenance shall, subject to the provisions of section 120, expire—
120. Right to maintenance to cease on remarriage
121. Power of court to vary orders for maintenanceThe court may, at any time and from time to time, vary or may rescind, any subsisting order for maintenance, whether secured or unsecured, on the application of the person in whose favour or of the person against whom the order was made, or, in respect of secured maintenance, of the legal personal representatives of the latter, where it is satisfied that the order was based on any misrepresentation or mistake of fact or where there has been any material change in the circumstances.
122. Power of court to vary agreements for maintenanceSubject to the provisions of section 118, the court may, at any time and from time to time, vary the terms of any agreement as to maintenance made between husband and wife, whether made before or after the coming into force of this Act, where it is satisfied that there has been any material change in the circumstances and notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any such agreement.
123. Maintenance payable under order of court to be inalienableMaintenance payable to any person under an order of court shall not be assignable or transferable or liable to be attached, sequestered or levied upon for, or in respect of any debt or claim whatsoever, save for a debt due to the Government.
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 legitimateWhere a marriage is a nullity or is annulled under section 96 the mother shall, in the absence of any agreement or order of court to the contrary, be entitled to the custody of the child, if any, of the marriage.[Act No. 21 of 2009 s. 162]
129. Duty to maintain children
130. Power of court to order maintenance for children
131. Power of court to order security for maintenanceThe court may, in its discretion, when ordering payment of maintenance for the benefit of a child, order the person liable to pay such maintenance to secure the whole or any part of it by vesting any property in trustees upon trust to pay such maintenance or part thereof out of the income from such property and subject thereto, in trust for the settlor.[Act No. 21 of 2009 s. 162]
132. Duration of orders for custody and maintenanceSave where an order for custody or maintenance of a child is expressed to be for any shorter period or where any such order has been rescinded, it shall expire on the attainment by the child of the age of eighteen years.[Act No. 21 of 2009 s. 162]
133. Power of court to vary orders for custody or maintenanceThe court may, at any time and from time to time, vary or rescind, any order for the custody or maintenance of a child on the application of any interested person, where it is satisfied that the order was based on any misrepresentation or mistake of fact or where there has been any material change in the circumstances.[Act No. 21 of 2009 s. 162]
134. Power of court to vary agreement for custody or maintenanceThe court may at any time and from time to time vary the terms of any agreement relating to the custody or maintenance of a child, whether made before or after the commencement of this Act, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any such agreement, where it is satisfied that it is reasonable and in the interest of the welfare of the child so to do.[Act No. 21 of 2009 s. 162]
135. Recovery of arrears of maintenanceThe provisions of section 124 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to orders for the payment of maintenance for the benefit of a child.[Act No. 21 of 2009 s. 162]
136. Court to have regard to advice of welfare officers
137. Power of court to restrain taking of child 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 molestationThe court shall have power during the pendency of any matrimonial proceedings or on or after the grant of a decree of annulment, separation or divorce, to order any person to refrain from forcing his or her company on his or her spouse or former spouse and from other acts of molestation.
140. No proceedings to compel cohabitationNo proceeding may be brought to compel a wife to live with her husband or a husband with his wife, but it shall be competent for a spouse who has been deserted to refer the matter to a Board.
(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 objectionAny person who, when giving notice of intention to marry in compliance with section 18, or notice of objection to an intended marriage under section 20, makes any false statement commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years:Provided that, it shall be a good defence to a charge under this section that the person charged had reasonable grounds for believing the statement to be true.[Cap. 4 s. 8]
146. Failure to attend before BoardAny person who, having been required to attend before a Board, refuses or neglects to do so without reasonable excuse commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred shillings.[Cap. 4 s. 8]
147. Giving false testimony before BoardAny person who in or in relation to any proceeding before a Board—
148. Minimum age
149. Prohibited relationship
150. Prohibited ceremony
151. Coercion or fraud
152. Polyandry and similar offences
153. Ceremony performed by unauthorised officialAny person who is a party to or participates in a ceremony purporting to be a marriage knowing or having reason to believe that any person officiating thereat is not lawfully entitled to do so, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings.[Cap. 4 s. 8]
154. Absence of witnessAny person who is a party to or participates in a ceremony purporting to be a marriage at which there are not at least two competent witnesses present commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings.[Cap. 4 s. 8]
155. Irregular marriages
156. Meaning of participationFor the purposes of sections 148 to 155, inclusive, "to participate in" a ceremony means:
157. Failing to apply for registrationAny person who, being under a duty to apply for the registration of any marriage, fails to do so within the prescribed time, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred shillings:Provided that, no person shall be charged with an offence under this section if the marriage has been registered under subsection (8) of section 43.[Cap. 4 s. 8]
158. Unlawful attempt to prevent marriage
Part VIII – Miscellaneous provisions
159. Presumption of validity of registered marriageThe fact that a marriage has been registered under this Act or any other written law in force before the commencement of this Act providing for the registration of marriages shall raise a rebuttable presumption that such marriage was valid.
160. Presumption of marriage
161. Presumption of death
162. Rules and regulations
163. Repeal of certain lawsThe written laws set out in the First Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed.
164. Amendment of certain lawsThe written laws set out in the first and second columns of the Second Schedule are hereby amended in the manner specified in relation thereto in the third column of that Schedule.
166. Omitted Cap. 16Amendment of the Penal Code.
167. Translation of Act into Kiswahili
History of this document
30 November 2019 this version
01 May 1971
12 February 1971
Cited documents 0
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