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In the Baha’i Faith, there are certain instances in which consent is not needed:

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 a parent abandoned the child from infancy:

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)

When a child was adopted in such a way that to trace the natural parents contravenes the provision of the adoption certificate or the laws of the country:

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)

When adoption legislation extinguished the rights and responsibilities of the natural parents:

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)

When a parent has committed incest and when a parent consciously fails to protect the child from flagrant sexual abuse.

He (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. (The Universal House of Justice, 1992, Violence and Sexual Abuse of Women and Children)

When the child was conceived as a consequence of rape:

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)

When a father denies paternity and never assumed the responsibilities of parenthood:

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)

When a parent seeks to use the requirement for consent in a manner which subverts the spirit and intent of the law:

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)

When parents or children have disowned each other; severing family ties and renouncing their responsibilities:

In some cases it is permissible under the law of God either for the parents or for the children to disown the other, to deprive the other of certain rights, to sever family ties and to renounce their responsibilities. However, the law thereof is to be decided by the Universal House of Justice. (Shoghi Effendi, quoted in a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 Jan, 2010)

Do any of these apply to you?  If so, here’s what to do:

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.  (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 19 January 2010)

What’s been your experience with this issue?  Post your comments below!