Lack of Witnesses & Other Marriage Offences That Attract Hefty Fines


The Kenyan Constitution and other relevant institutions govern the institution of marriage to ensure no offences are committed and if they are, the consequences are spelled out. 

Some of these guidelines are outlined in the Marriage Act. This provides a fine for anyone who goes against the law.

The Marriage Act recognises several types of marriages including civil, Christian, Islamic, Hindu and traditional. The marriage can either be monogamous or polygamous. compiled the offences and the penalties outlined for all couples intending to get married.

Per the Act, anyone who celebrates a union purporting to be a marriage without the required witnesses commits an offence and is liable to a Ksh10,000 fine and 3 months imprisonment or both.

A bride slips a wedding ring on the groom’s hand.


Marina Isay

“Any person who, in a notice of intention to marry under section 25 or notice of objection to an intended marriage under section 28, makes a false statement commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or fine not exceeding Ksh2 million or to both,” reads part of the Act.

However, a person does not commit an offence under the above section if they had reasonable grounds to believe the statement made to be true.

Any person who makes a frivolous, malicious or fraudulent object commits an offence and upon conviction is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding Ksh1 million or both.

If a person fails to register a marriage commits an offence and shall upon conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh5,000 or to a community service order of both.

According to the Act, a person who marries a person who is below the minimum age of 18 years commits an offence and faces up to a Ksh1 million fine, five years imprisonment or both.

Suppose a person has a marriage celebration where one of the parties is in a prohibited marriage relationship. In that case, they commit an offence and can be fined Ksh300,000 or jailed for five years or both if found guilty.

A prohibited marriage relationship bars a person from marrying their grandparents, child, parent, grandchild, sibling, cousin, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew or any other family members including those from a former spouse’s side. This also includes any marriage which is prohibited under customary law.

However, a person is exempted from the penalty if they were unaware of the relationship before the marriage.

Additionally, if one person coerces the other into marriage fully aware that they were intoxicated, or have a mental disability commits an offence and upon conviction is liable to imprisonment for three years or Ksh300,000 or both.

“A person who celebrates a union purporting to be an unauthorized person. a marriage and who at the time of the ceremony is not authorised to do so commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine of three hundred thousand shillings or to both” reads part of the Act.

Over the years, the government has made several changes to govern the institution of marriage, here are a few new regulations.

A lady and a man embroiled in an argument: Modelled by Washington Mito (left) and Cynthia Khanijiri (right).



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