For decades, thousands of foreigners in Ireland have opted to get married in the familiar confines of their home embassy. And for decades, that was perfectly fine.
Just not since 2007.
That’s because, according to the Irish Government, couples tying the knot in an Irish-based embassy over the past few years aren’t married at all.
The staggering realization is courtesy of Ireland ’s 2004 Civil Registration Act, which requires that all marriage ceremonies be performed by an authorized government registrar, and in a registered location. Enacted into law onNovember 5, 2007, the Act doesn’t recognize embassies in Ireland as lawful places to hold marriages.
And it gets even worse.
International laws state that if a marriage is unlawful in the country where it’s conducted, it’s unlawful everywhere else, too – including the couples’ home country. This means, not only have thousands of couples been living outside of wedlock (at least in the eyes of the law), but that the rights and benefits that normally accrue to lawfully wedded spouses in their home country – such as custody rights, taxation benefits, inheritance laws, even registering children in the names of both parents – aren’t taking place.
Understandably, the issue has sparked a firestorm of debate, including political battles between Ireland and several EU countries. Ireland has asked Spain, the current EU presidency holder, to mediate the situation.