15

In the Harry Potter universe, if you're dating a Muggle, how long do you have to wait before the Ministry of Magic will let you disclose you're a witch or wizard without consequence?

Follow up, related questions

  1. Would they have to get their memory wiped if you broke up? How would that work if there were kids involved?
  2. Do the kids have to keep magic a secret from the oblivious parent or are they just sworn to secrecy?

...It's hard to believe that no Muggle has ever tried to gain custody by telling the court his ex-wife is a witch.

  • 1) Tom Riddle Sr. didn't have his wiped but then again he didn't say exactly that she was a witch for fear of looking like an absolute lunatic. 2) Muggle-born mean anything? Definitely not. Imagine how well that'd go. The final paragraph: If anything they might be thrown into psych ward or otherwise shunned. – Pryftan May 16 '18 at 14:33
10

It’s unclear - but they might have to wait until intending to marry.

We see a few Muggle-wizard couples in the books, like Seamus’s parents. We know in their case, he was only informed about magic after they were married.

“I’m half and half,’ said Seamus. ‘Me dad’s a Muggle. Mam didn’t tell him she was a witch ’til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)

The majority of the information about when the Muggle is actually told their partner is a wizard comes from the Pottermore writings by J.K. Rowling. It doesn’t seem like wizards are obligated to tell the Muggle they’re in a relationship with about their magic, even upon marriage. Minerva McGonagall’s mother didn’t tell her husband either right before or after they were married - she only told him later, after Minerva was already born and showed signs of being a witch as well.

Now estranged from her family, Isobel could not bring herself to mar the bliss of the honeymoon by telling her smitten new husband that she had graduated top of her class in Charms at Hogwarts, nor that she had been Captain of the school Quidditch team.
- Professor McGonagall (Pottermore)

From the information we do have, it seems possible that the Ministry may require marriage to be at least proposed for it to be legal to tell a Muggle partner about magic. This isn’t confirmed in any way, though - there are fairly few cases of marriages between wizards and Muggles where we know when the wizard tells the Muggle about magic. However, there’s no mentioned case where a wizard reveals the wizarding world to a Muggle they’re dating but not intending to marry. Seamus’s mother told his father after they were married. In the writing on Pottermore about them, Petunia told Vernon about her witch sister after they were married, Isobel told Robert McGonagall after marriage, and Lyall Lupin seems to have told Hope Howell when he proposed.

The young couple fell in love, and not even Lyall’s shamefaced admission, some months later, that Hope had never really been in danger, dented her enthusiasm for him. To Lyall’s delight, Hope accepted his proposal of marriage and threw herself enthusiastically into preparations for the wedding, complete with a Boggart-topped cake.
- Remus Lupin (Pottermore)

If this is indeed the rule, it’s a logical one - otherwise a wizard who dates a lot could end up notifying most of a village of magic. In addition, it ensures the relationship is somewhat serious before the wizard reveals the existence of the magical world.

Apparently, wizards cannot tell if they intend on rejecting the marriage proposal.

According to the Pottermore writing on her, Minerva McGonagall had fallen in love with a Muggle, who proposed marriage to her, and although she had accepted at first, she realized she didn’t want a life like her mother’s and decided to refuse instead.

Early next morning, Minerva slipped from her parents’ house and went to tell Dougal that she had changed her mind, and could not marry him. Mindful of the fact that if she broke the International Statute of Secrecy she would lose the job at the Ministry for which she was giving him up, she could give him no good reason for her change of heart. She left him devastated, and set out for London three days later.
- Professor McGonagall (Pottermore)

She knew breaking the Statute of Secrecy would cost her the job at the Ministry, which is why she didn’t tell him why she was ending the relationship - meaning that in that situation, telling would break the Statute.

The Muggles don’t seem to get Obliviated if the relationship ends.

The case of Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle implies that a Muggle who was in a relationship with a wizard wouldn’t get their memory wiped. Tom Riddle spoke of being hoodwinked after he’d left Merope, implying he, at least, had not been entirely Obliviated to forget their entire relationship.

“You see, within a few months of their runaway marriage, Tom Riddle reappeared at the manor house in Little Hangleton without his wife. The rumour flew around the neighbourhood that he was talking of being “hoodwinked” and “taken in”. What he meant, I am sure, is that he had been under an enchantment that had now lifted, though I daresay he did not dare use those precise words for fear of being thought insane.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)

It seems like his memory was intact, if he could have known he was under an enchantment. In addition, he seems like a prime example of someone who’d be considered for Obliviating - he was tricked into a relationship with a witch, and would have likely been upset with the situation.

Wizards born to a Muggle don’t have to keep it from their parent.

Seamus Finnegan has a witch mother and Muggle father, who does know of magic. The Ministry wouldn’t require Seamus to have to hide anything from his Muggle parent. Even wizards with two Muggle parents are allowed to tell their parents about magic - they’re informed in person by someone from Hogwarts.

“And will it really come by owl?’ Lily whispered.

‘Normally,’ said Snape. ‘But you’re Muggle-born, so someone from the school will have to come and explain to your parents.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince’s Tale)

Therefore, there would be no problem with one Muggle parent knowing. It’s possible that the spouse of the Muggle parent might still be attempting to keep magic secret from their Muggle spouse and not want their child to mention it, but the Ministry has no such requirement.

A Muggle who tries to reveal their ex as a wizard will be ridiculed.

As for if a Muggle who ends a relationship with a wizard on poor terms would try to use it against their spouse, probably not - it’ll just make them look crazy.

Professor Mordicus Egg, author of The Philosophy of the Mundane: Why the Muggles Prefer Not to Know, points out that Muggles in love generally do not betray their husbands or wives, and Muggles who fall out of love are jeered at by their own community when they assert that their estranged partner is a witch or wizard.
- Pure-Blood (Pottermore)

So, it’s very unlikely that a Muggle would try to tell a court that their former partner is a wizard, and if someone did they’d get written off as a lunatic.

  • 1
    Very thorough analysis as usual Miss Bella! I do admittedly feel it's a bit of a stretch to take the fact that no known examples of a wizard/witch who doesn't reveal they are to their partner until they at least propose to then suggest it might be a requirement. I think it's unlikely but otoh the way certain Ministers acted I suppose it's possible - though I suspect it'd cause a certain outrage. Good answer anyway Bella! Well done. – Pryftan May 13 '18 at 23:22
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    @Pryftan Thanks a lot! :) I agree that there’s not enough evidence to state anything conclusive about if waiting for a proposal is a requirement. It seemed a pattern worth mentioning - but I definitely agree it’s not proof, I’ve edited my answer to hopefully make the uncertainty more clear. There isn’t any concrete information about when wizards are allowed to tell, though I suspect that there may be at least some sort of rules or guidelines, so that they don’t notify too many prospective Muggle partners. I’m glad you enjoyed my answer, thanks so much! :) – Bellatrix May 14 '18 at 1:11
  • 1
    From the way Seamus phrases it, it sounds as if the disclosure usually happens before the wedding. – Gaultheria May 14 '18 at 2:15
  • 1
    @Miss Bella Better. Just in case you didn't intend it the quote from Seamus is quoted twice though in your answer. And remember that the Riddle family had the look of absolute terror on their faces when they died; perhaps that's because he looked like his father but maybe he also he understood a bit more - and perhaps told his parents? Either way it seems they don't have their memories wiped and as Dumbledore suggests the fear of looking insane is a reason to not worry so much about it. – Pryftan May 14 '18 at 3:33
  • 1
    @Gaultheria You could interpret it that way but I see it both ways: it also could be read as she simply chose not to tell him. There are numerous reasons why she might not have done that but it doesn't suggest one way or another that it's usually done before - it suggests that he was shocked to find out which if you think about it makes perfect sense: if someone told you that they were a real wizard or witch and they could truly prove it to you wouldn't it be quite a shock to you? Of course it would; well the same goes for here. – Pryftan May 14 '18 at 3:35
5

There is no evidence that the Ministry in the UK interferes in personal relationships to this extreme, as partially evidenced by Newt Scamander's attitude to the tensions in the USA.

Relatives of both Lupin and McGonagall form relationships with Muggles, as featured on Pottermore here and here, with no mention of official permission. It seems that the Ministry trusts its people to come clean to those they consider trustworthy - not a random neighbour of course, but those that one is willing to marry.

However, if a Muggle was to stand in court and start exclaiming, "She's a witch!" I think we can rest assured of one of two things:

The wizarding community will rely on Muggles to condemn the spouse as a lunatic.

The Ministry will send its best Obliviators to any Muggle who is beginning to be convinced.

  • Iirc MgGonagall actually is in a relationship with a Muggle too it's just that she decided it couldn't work out; when she found out that he got together with someone she still was a bit sad about it. And indeed there was no need for any permission which far as I am concerned makes sense. I can just imagine how much uproar there would be to try something like that. Even so I would think it'd be more of an international thing than regional. Part of the secrecy statute. But no example so doesn't really matter I suppose. – Pryftan May 13 '18 at 23:16
-2

I think it's up to the witch or wizard, but probably only after you're married. For instance, I remember someone having had a father leave the mother after finding out that they're a witch.

But, since we don't have any examples that we see (AFAIK), we don't know for sure.

Also, don't forget that like the Dursleys know about magic, and they hadn't had any magical people in the family until Harry was plopped in.

The closest example is probably the parents of a Muggle-born: They find out either on their own or when the letter comes, presumably.

TL;DR:

We don't know

  • How does Lily not count as a 'magical person'? – The Dark Lord Dec 21 '16 at 16:51
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    @TheDarkLord whoops. I got distracted. I meant that Petunia was able to tell Vernon. – Mithrandir Dec 21 '16 at 19:51
  • @TheDarkLord To be fair Lily was never a Dursley so it seems perfectly fine to word it the way it is; Harry was the first one to live with them that was magical. They didn't see Lily or James as family. As it is they hardly treated Harry like he was family. So I don't see there's anything wrong with that sentence. Of course the father he refers to is none other than the father of yourself, that is Voldemort, but that's circumstantial and it's a stretch to say 'probably only after you're married' - esp since some told prior to marriage iirc. – Pryftan May 14 '18 at 3:39

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