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Marriage Officer 3

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A marriage officer is given an oral examination of the Marriage Act, Chapter 173 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the Registrar of the High Court to make sure that he/she is equipped with the necessary knowledge to implement it. The marriage officer has the duty to inform the prospective bride and groom about the basic requirements and procedure for marriage.

As part of their internal policy, religious bodies hold formal or informal counseling session for prospective bride and groom. They may also provide counseling session if requested after the marriage. The full responsibility of making the marriage work, however, is upon the parties concerned. The church, family and well wishers may help and give support when necessary but the onus is on the parties themselves.{{more}}

The following information may be of benefit to marriage officers and the public at large:

Age of Marriage

The age of marriage in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is fifteen and over for females and sixteen and over for males. If a female under the age of fifteen or male under the age of sixteen marries another in SVG that marriage will be void that is, it is not recognized by law.

Non-Compliance

Any wilful non-compliance with the law will cause the marriage to be void. The law requires the marriage to be performed by a marriage officer in the presence of two other witnesses. Non compliance with this could cause the marriage to be void.

Procedure for obtaining a marriage licence

One of the parties to the marriage must visit the High Court Registry to obtain the marriage licence. No marriage officer can perform a marriage without a licence. There are two types of licence, the Registrar’s Certificate and the Governor General’s licence. The Registrar’s Certificate is an inexpensive licence that requires a notice. The notice must be posted on the court’s notice board for seven working days before the licence is granted. Stamp duty of $15.00 must be paid for issuance. The notice shows the name of the parties and prospective date of marriage. The application form for the Governor General’s licence is obtained at the Registry but the processing is done at the Ministry of Legal Affairs at a cost of $500.00. This licence could be obtained after a notice of at least one working day.

A person who has been married before must present a valid Decree Absolute. Persons below the age of eighteen and above the age of fifteen for females and sixteen for males must have the consent of parents or legal guardian A consent form is provided by the Court office for this purpose.

Marriage conducted by the Registrar

The Registrar is a marriage officer and is by law able to perform marriages. The marriage ceremony is performed in his/her office with open doors between the hours of 10.a.m. and 4 p.m. on week days in accordance with the law. The marriage ceremony is simple and requires the parties to declare that there is no impediment to their marriage. They then take their vows and call upon the persons present to witness the same. If the parties have rings, the registrar would allow them to exchange them. To finish the ceremony the registrar declares the couple to be married in accordance with the laws of St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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