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Marriage Matters -2

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Last week we looked at some areas of the Marriage laws and this week I continue to do so.

The marriage must take place within three months of the date of the marriage licence. If this is not done, then the licence becomes void. Application for another licence must be done and another licence issued.{{more}}

The Certificate

A licenced marriage officer must have in his possession a copy of the marriage register in which he or she would record certain personal information such as names, ages, place of residence of the persons married, the date on which the ceremony took place. The parties, two witnesses and the marriage officer must sign the marriage register. An original certificate with all the signatures must be given to the parties. A duplicate copy of this record must be submitted to the Registry. The information is thereafter copied into the General Marriage Register Book so that the persons married would apply and receive a marriage certificate.

For marriage in “articulo mortis”, similar information is required and the marriage officer who solemnized the marriage must make a declaration that the persons before the marriage, in the presence of two witnesses, indicated that he or she believed himself or herself to be at the point of death.

Public document

When a marriage is registered, the document becomes a public document, and any person is allowed to search the index and the General Marriage Book at the Registry office. A copy of the certificate could be issued to persons requiring it. If the information is not registered, then application has to be made to a judge in Chambers to have it registered.

Correction of error

Where there is a clerical error, a word or name spelt incorrectly, application could be made by way of Statutory Declaration to correct the error. The error must be an error of “fact or substance” and it must be presented by either of the parties. If the parties are dead, a child of one party or a legal representative may make the declaration asking for the correction of the error.

Legal Effect

Marriages solemnized at the Registry by the Registrar or Deputy Registrar and those solemnized by marriage officers in churches and elsewhere have the same legal effect. It, therefore, depends on the choice of the parties. At the Registry, there is the custom of dressing simply and having a few persons to witness the event, while the church ceremony is very often a big affair. It is Vincentian culture to celebrate this occasion with numerous guests dressed in their finery. Immediately after the ceremony at the church there is very often a big feast.

Any action that affects the marriage thereafter is given under the Matrimonial Causes Act. Divorce proceeding under three years of marriage would not be entertained unless there is exceptional hardship and exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent. The judge would also look at whether there are children in the marriage and whether there is a chance of reconciliation.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]

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