The Republic Of Cuba
: Japanese Fairy Tales
A nation may in a day overthrow a dynasty which has ruled for centuries,
it may in a few years completely revolutionize its system of government
and methods of trading, but its ancient code of marriage will live on
unchanged for ages.
It is a noteworthy fact that the law of Rome concerning marriage survived
the Roman Empire by a thousand years, and even to-day it is the foundation
of the law on that subje
t in all of the Continental countries of Europe
and of the entire Western Hemisphere, with the exception of the United
States of America and Canada.
In the Civil Code of Cuba we can see not only its recent origin from the
Spanish Code, but traces of the Law of the Twelve Tables and the
Institutes of Justinian.
Cuba is to-day a Republic composed of six Provinces. The seat of
government is located at Havana, where sit the Senate and House of
Representatives, which constitute the national legislature.
The Civil Code is the Codigo Civil of Spain, with such changes and
modifications as have become effective since Spain lost its sovereignty
The statement of Cuban law which follows is, therefore, predicated upon
the Codigo Civil, which by royal decree of May 11, 1888, was extended to
the islands of Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines, upon proclamations
and orders issued during the recent American military occupation and on
the interpretation and construction of the positive law by Cuban courts
MARRIAGE.--The law considers marriage as a civil contract, which may be
concluded by either a civil (matrimonio civil) or a religious
(matrimonio religioso) celebration.
A male cannot marry until he has completed his fourteenth year of age; a
female until she has completed her twelfth year.
Marriages contracted by minors under the legal age become, however, ipso
facto legal if a day after having arrived at the legal age the parties
continue to live together without bringing suit to annul the marriage, or
if the female becomes pregnant before the legal age or before the
institution of a suit for annulment.
Only such persons as are in the full enjoyment of their reason can
Marriage is forbidden to all persons who suffer from absolute or relative
physical impotency for the purposes of procreation.
Persons ordained in sacris and those professed in an approved canonical
order, who are bound by a solemn pledge of chastity, cannot lawfully
conclude marriage until they have obtained the proper canonical
Those who are already bound in marriage cannot contract a new marriage.
Persons who are twenty-three years of age or upwards may conclude
marriage, if otherwise of legal capacity, without parental consent or
Persons under twenty years of age require the consent of their parents, or
of such persons whose right it is to give or withhold such consent.
Persons who are more than twenty years of age, but under twenty-three, are
under the obligation of asking the advice or counsel of their parents or
of such persons standing in the parental relation before contracting
marriage, and if the advice is refused, or it should be unfavourable, the
marriage cannot take place until three months after the petition was made.
The consent and the favourable advice for the celebration of a marriage
must be proven, if requested, by means of an instrument authenticated by a
civil or ecclesiastical notary or by the municipal judge of the domicile
of the petitioner.
When the advice has been proven the lapse of time shall be proven in the
If a marriage is concluded by persons more than twenty years of age, and
under twenty-three years of age, without compliance with the rules just
stated, the marriage will be recognized as valid, but the offender is
subject to certain disabilities and penalties.
CONSANGUINITY AND AFFINITY.--The following persons are prohibited from
contracting marriage with each other:
1. The ascendants and descendants by legitimate or natural consanguinity
2. Collaterals by legitimate consanguinity up to the fourth degree.
3. Collaterals by legitimate affinity up to the fourth degree.
4. Collaterals by natural consanguinity or affinity up to the second
The government, for sufficient cause, may on the petition of a party grant
a dispensation permitting a marriage of minors who have not obtained the
proper permission or advice of the persons whose legal right it is to
authorize one or the other.
For grave reasons the government may also grant a dispensation relieving a
party from the prohibition of marrying within the third and fourth degrees
of collaterals by legitimate consanguinity; the impediments arising from
legitimate or natural affinity between collaterals and those relating to
the descendants of the adopter.
SPECIAL PROHIBITIONS.--The following persons cannot contract marriage with
1. The adopting father or mother and the adopted; the latter and the
surviving spouse of the former, and the former and the surviving spouse of
2. The legitimate descendants of the adopter with the adopted, while the
3. Adulterers who have been condemned by a final judgment.
4. Those who have been condemned as authors, or as the author and
accomplice, of the death of the spouse of either of them.
CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE.--A civil marriage must be celebrated according to
the requirements of the code, as changed or modified by subsequent orders,
decrees and legislation.
Any clergyman, priest or minister, irrespective of faith or sect, who
belongs to a religious denomination actually established in the Republic
of Cuba, and who has been duly authorized, may solemnize marriage.
A register is kept in the office of the Secretary of Justice containing
the names and addresses of all clergymen, priests and ministers who are
qualified to solemnize marriage in the Republic.
Persons who desire to contract a religious marriage must present to the
clergyman, priest or minister who is qualified to perform the ceremony a
declaration signed by both of the contracting parties, stating:
1. The names, surnames, profession, domicile or residence of the
2. The names, surnames, profession, domicile or residence of the parents.
3. Certificates of birth and of the status of the contracting parties,
the consent or advice, if proper, and the dispensation, when it is
Upon the presentation of such a declaration the clergyman, priest or
minister shall announce the future celebration of marriage between the
parties according to the form or method prescribed by the rites and
regulations of his religious denomination.
If the religions denomination of such clergyman, priest or minister has no
established form for such announcement, then a publication must be made in
the form established by the Civil Code. The method required by the Civil
Code for proclaiming an intended marriage is set forth in Article 89,
which directs a publication by posting the written declaration of the
parties for fifteen days and calling upon those who have information of
any obstacle to oppose the marriage.
A civil marriage can only be solemnized by a municipal judge (Juez
Municipal), to whom must be presented as an indispensable preliminary
such a signed declaration of the parties as is necessary in the case where
the parties desire a religious ceremony.
A municipal judge chosen to celebrate a civil marriage will also direct as
a preliminary to marriage such a proclamation as is required by Article 89
A priest, minister or clergyman duly authorized to perform marriages may,
for sufficient cause, dispense with the publication as before set forth;
but in every case where a publication is made the marriage cannot be
concluded after fifteen days after the first day of such publication.
No priest, clergyman or minister is now authorized to grant a dispensation
permitting a marriage for any reason forbidden by the laws of the
An opposition to a marriage made by an interested person must be heard and
determined by the municipal judge of the district before any person
whatsoever is authorized to solemnize the nuptials.
The celebration itself must be witnessed by two adults, who may be
relatives of the parties. Article 87 of the code, permitting one or both
of the parties to a marriage to appear at the celebration, either
personally or by proxies to whom a special power is given, is still in
The municipal judge, priest, minister or clergyman who solemnizes a
marriage must immediately furnish to the parties a certificate of marriage
and cause a full and particular record of said marriage to be filed in the
Civil Registry of the District (Registro Civil del Distrito), in default
of which such judge, priest, minister or clergyman will be subject to a
fine of one hundred pesos, or imprisoned for not less than 30 days, or
not more than 90 days, by the Correctional Judge (Juez Correccional) of
ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGES.--The civil courts have exclusive jurisdiction to
decree an annulment of marriage.
The following marriages are void:
1. Those celebrated between persons related within the prohibited degrees,
except in cases of dispensation.
2. Those contracted by error as to the person or by compulsion or
3. Those contracted by the abductor with the abducted while she is in his
4. Those which are not solemnized by an authorized official.
A marriage contracted in good faith produces civil effects, although it
may be declared void.
If good faith existed on the part of only one of the spouses it shall
produce civil effects only with regard to said spouse and to the children.
Good faith is presumed if the contrary does not appear.
When bad faith existed on the part of both spouses the marriage shall only
produce civil effects with relation to the children.
After the annulment of a marriage the sons over three years of age shall
remain in the care of the father and the daughters in the care of the
mother, provided there was good faith on the part of both spouses.
If either or both were guilty of bad faith the tribunal has power to make
such disposition of the children as justice may require.
RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS.--The spouses are obliged to live together, to be
faithful to, and mutually assist, each other.
The husband must protect his wife, and the latter must obey her husband.
The wife is obliged to follow her husband wherever he may establish his
residence. The tribunals may, for just cause, exempt her from this
obligation when the husband removes his residence beyond the seas or to a
The husband is the administrator of the property of the conjugal
partnership, except when the contrary is stipulated.
The wife, however, retains ownership of the paraphernal property, which
consists of such property as the wife brings to the marriage, not included
in the dowry.
The husband is the representative of his wife. The latter cannot, without
his permission, appear in a suit in person nor through an attorney.
Nevertheless, she does not require such permission to defend herself in a
criminal suit or to proceed against or to defend herself in suits with
Neither may the wife, without the permission of her husband, acquire
property for a good or valuable consideration, alienate her property, or
bind herself, except in certain exceptional cases, and within the
limitations established by law.
A wife may without her husband's permission:
1. Execute a will.
2. Exercise the rights and perform the duties which appertain to her with
regard to the legitimate and acknowledged natural children she may have
had by another, and with relation to the property of the same.
Only the husband and his heirs can enforce the nullity of the acts
executed by his wife without proper authorization.
DIVORCE.--Divorce only produces the suspension of the life in common of
the spouses; it does not dissolve the marriage.
The legal causes for divorce are:
1. Adultery on the part of the wife in every case, and on the part of the
husband when public scandal or disgrace of the wife results therefrom.
2. Personal violence actually inflicted or grave insults.
3. Violence exercised by the husband toward the wife in order to force her
to change her religion.
4. The proposal of the husband to prostitute his wife.
5. The attempts of the husband or wife to corrupt their sons, or to
prostitute their daughters, and connivance in their corruption or
6. The condemnation of a spouse to penal servitude.
EFFECTS OF DIVORCE:
1. The separation of the spouses in every case.
2. The protection of the wife.
3. The placing of the children under the care of one or both of the
spouses, as may be proper.
4. The provision for the support of the wife and of the children who do
not remain under the authority of the father.
5. The adoption of the necessary measures to prevent the husband, who may
have given cause for the divorce, from injuring the wife in the
administration of her property.
FOREIGN MARRIAGES.--A marriage contracted in a foreign country, according
to the laws of such country, is generally treated as valid in Cuba. Such a
marriage, however, must be monogamous and otherwise in conformity with the
general laws and usages of Christendom.
If the parties are Cubans, and are married abroad while retaining their
domiciles in Cuba, the foreign marriage must also conform to the
requirements of Cuban law with regards to the capacity of the parties and
the necessary parental consent or advice.
PROOF OF MARRIAGE.--The ordinary manner to prove a marriage concluded in
Cuba is to produce a certificate of the record of the civil registry, and
this is the proof required unless the books of the civil registry never
existed, or have disappeared, or a question is pending before the
tribunals, in which case all kinds of direct evidence are admissible.
The uninterrupted status of the parents, together with the certificates of
the birth of their children as legitimate, is one competent method of
proving the marriage of said parents, unless it is shown that one of the
two was bound by a prior marriage.
A marriage contracted in a foreign country may be established by showing
an authenticated copy of its registration. If such foreign country does
not require a regular or authenticated registration the marriage must be
proved by competent evidence of the regulations of marriage in the foreign
country in question, together with proof that all such regulations were
Should a marriage be contracted in a foreign country between a Cuban and a
foreign woman, or between a foreigner and a Cuban woman, and the
contracting parties do not make special stipulations with regard to their
property, it is understood, when the husband is a Cuban, that he marries
under the system of the legal conjugal partnership; and when the wife is a
Cuban that she marries under the system of laws in force in the husband's
ENGAGEMENTS TO MARRY.--Future espousals do not give rise to an obligation
to contract marriage. No court will admit a complaint in which their
performance is demanded.
However, if the promise has been made in a public or private instrument by
a person of age, or by a minor in the presence of the person whose consent
is necessary for the celebration of the marriage, or when banns have been
published, the person who refuses to marry, without just cause, can be
obliged to indemnify the other party for the expenses which he or she may
have incurred by reason of the promised marriage.
An action to recover indemnity for such expenses must be instituted within
a year, counted from the day of the refusal to celebrate the marriage.
SPANISH PRECEDENTS.--It should be remembered that in throwing off the yoke
of Spanish rule the people of Cuba did not change their blood, language or
traditions. Just as the law of the United States of America is founded
upon the law of England as it existed at the time of the adoption of the
American Constitution, so the jurisprudence of the Republic of Cuba has as
its foundation the law of Spain as it existed at the time the Republic was
In both instances there have been changes and modifications by legislative
acts and judicial interpretations, but a Spanish judicial decision has
even more weight in a Cuban tribunal than an English decision has in an
American court because Cuba, being a younger Republic than the United
States, is much nearer to its motherland in point of time, besides its
closer resemblance in race, religion and customs.