A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Consent - Not Needed

A child may be permitted to marry without seeking the consent of a man who denies paternity and never assumed the responsibilities of parenthood.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)


A parent also violates the spirit of the marriage law if he or she uses the requirement for consent to exert unjustifiable control over factors that are unrelated to the prospective marriage. An example of this transgression is a parent who threatens to withhold consent as a means of manipulating the child’s behaviour to create estrangement between the child and the other parent. Another example is a parent who misuses the law to extract financial benefits or other concessions from the child or the child’s other parent.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)


Bahá’u’lláh … has indicated that under certain circumstances, the parents could be deprived of the right of parenthood as a consequence of their actions. The Universal House of Justice has the right to legislate on this matter. It has decided for the present that all cases should be referred to it in which the conduct or character of a parent appears to render him unworthy of having such parental rights as that of giving consent to marriage. Such questions could arise, for example, when a parent has committed incest, or when the child was conceived as a consequence of rape, and also when a parent consciously fails to protect the child from flagrant sexual abuse.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA-USA Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Finally, the right of the parent to consent can be forfeited if he or she seeks to use the requirement for consent in a manner which subverts the spirit and intent of the law or obstructs an individual’s right as a believer in Bahá’u’lláh to marry in accordance with the provisions of Bahá’í law. For example, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states, “As for the question regarding marriage under the Law of God: first thou must choose one who is pleasing to thee, and then the matter is subject to the consent of father and mother.” Yet, in some instances, a parent has refused consent in order to deprive the child of the right to choose and to force the child to marry someone of the parent’s choosing. In other instances, a parent has denied consent in order to try to prevent the child from marrying anyone.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)


Furthermore, a child conceived as a consequence of rape is not obliged to seek consent of the male offender.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)


It is important for an Assembly to distinguish such violations of the spirit of the law from the reasons a parent might have for denying consent to marry in a particular instance. Parents have a wide degree of latitude to determine how they chose to exercise their responsibility. As long as the spirit of the law is not violated they may refuse consent, and their conclusion is binding, even if it appears to the children or to others that they are being unreasonable or are acting out of prejudice. Ultimately, parents are responsible before God for their decision.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)


Marriage is also permitted without seeking the consent of a parent who abandoned the child from infancy.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)


Regarding the matter of adopted children, the consent of all natural parents must be obtained wherever this is legally possible but no effort should be made to trace the natural parents if this contravenes the provision of the adoption certificate or the laws of the country.
(The Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 24 October 1965)


The Universal House of Justice advised the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada that if the effect of adoption legislation is to extinguish the rights and responsibilities of the natural parents, the child does not require their consent. Please consult with your Local Spiritual Assembly about this. There is no requirement of Bahá’í law that the consent of foster or adopting parents be obtained, although the child may wish to do so.
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 16 June 1966)


The consent of a parent is not required if he or she engaged or was complicit, in the sexual or physical abuse of a child. The application of this decision will require careful investigation and wisdom on the part of the responsible Bahá’í institutions. While many forms of treatment of a child may be considered unfair or harsh, the institutions cannot diminish the standard for defining or assessing abuse, lest the parents be deprived too easily of their right to consent. Parents are liable to err and might be immoderate in the exercise of physical or verbal chastisement. In a permissive age, strict discipline or authoritarian behaviour can be perceived as a form of abuse, even by some psychologists. Furthermore, if an individual finds it impossible to change the decision of a parent unwilling to give consent, he or she might be tempted to circumvent the requirement by exaggerating past behavior of the parent to make it seem like abuse. Nevertheless, it is unjust to require a true victim of abuse to renew ties with or submit to the will of, an abuser. In order to deprive the parent of the right to consent, the Assembly must be satisfied that abuse has actually occurred. To this end, it may find it necessary to seek corroboration from reliable witnesses or the view of qualified professionals.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)


The only circumstances under which parental consent for Bahá’í marriage is not required are the following:
1. If the parent is dead.
2. If the parent has absented himself to the degree that he can be adjudged legally dead.
3. If the parent is certified insane and therefore legally incompetent to give consent
4. If the parent is a Covenant-breaker.
5. It is possible under Bahá’í Law, in certain very rare cases, to recognize that a state of disownment exists. All such cases should be referred to the Universal House of Justice.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 371)


When cases arise involving any of the circumstances discussed above, a Local Spiritual Assembly should ascertain all relevant facts and refer the matter for consideration to your National Spiritual Assembly. You should exercise care not to unduly invalidate the rights of the parents; yet, while children have the obligation to abide by the Bahá’í marriage law, they also have the right to be protected from the excesses imposed by parents that violate the spirit and intent of that law. Should particular situations arise for which no clear solution is apparent, you should refer the matter to the House of Justice.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)