Are you planning on doing court wedding in Nigeria and you do not know how to go about it? Not to worry as in this article, we will guide you on how to get married in court. Despite the fact that in Nigeria today, the most common types of weddings are the traditional wedding and the church wedding or white wedding as some people may call it, it is not uncommon to see people opt for court weddings as they believe that getting a legal document from the courts in the land ensures that the marriage is totally valid and more solidified than the other types of weddings that we are accustomed to.
If you want to get married in a court of law in Nigeria, the best way to go about it is to visit a recognized marriage registry and these marriage registries are under the Federal Ministry of Interior. So once you visit any of the marriage registries in the country and you get married there, it is legal and this is what is known as court wedding in Nigeria and your union with your spouse is now legally recognized by the State.
In order for you to get married in court, the first thing to do is to approach any of the marriage registries in the country and make enquiries on how to go about the process. Court marriages are protected by law under the Marriage Act, Chapter 218 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990. So with that in mind, you will be briefed on what to do when you eventually get to any of the federal marriage registries closest to your place of residence. Not to worry, this article will out you through.
There are twelve (12) Federal Government recognized marriage registries in Nigeria and these are the only valid institutions that are licenced by the FG to conduct court weddings in the country. Despite the fact that in recent times, many local government areas all over the 36 states of the country now have their own registries, the only recognized marriage registries by law are the 12 and any other additions to them that will be made solely by the Federal Government of Nigeria as empowered by the constitution.
Below is a full list of the 12 Federal Government recognized marriage registries in Nigeria:
- Federal Marriage Registry, Ikoyi, Lagos State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Ikeja, Lagos State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory
- Federal Marriage Registry Benin City, Edo State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Owerri, Imo State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Port Harcourt, Rivers State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Kano, Kano State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Jos, Plateau State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Enugu, Enugu State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Kaduna, Kaduna State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Ibadan, Oyo State
- Federal Marriage Registry, Makurdi, Benue State.
STEP BY STEP PROCESS ON HOW TO GET MARRIED IN COURT IN NIGERIA
The following are the step by step processes on how to get married in court in Nigeria currently.
Before any thing else, the couple would have to have been in a relationship for some time to get to know each other better. Once this has been established and they wish to get married in court, they can visit the federal marriage registry of their choice, preferrably the one nearest to their place of residence to notify the court of their marriage intentions.
Upon getting to the federal marriage registry, the couple will be required to obtain a form signifying their intent to marry. This form is known as a “Notice Form” or a “Form A”. In this form, the couple is expected to fill in necessary details such as name, age, address, occupation, marital status, to mention but a few.
Once the Notice Form has been duly filled and about to be submitted, the couple is to submit along with it two (2) coloured passport photographs. Once this is done, the form will be posted on the Notice board at the registry for a period of 21 days. This notice is also entered into a book known as the Marriage Notice Book which may be inspected during office hours without a fee.
Upon expiration of the notice, the couple is expected to pay a prescribed fee. The amount a couple pays depends on the marriage registry they approached, after which the registrar issues them a “Form C” if they meet certain criteria such as:
- One of the parties must be resident within the district in which the marriage is intended to be celebrated.
- Both the couple who intend to get married (not being a widower or widow) must be at least twenty-one (21) years or older, and if they are below 21 years of age, they have to get a written permission or consent from the parents or legal guardians of the bride to be.
- That there is not any impediment of kindred or affinity, or any other lawful hindrance to the marriage.
- That neither of the parties to the intended marriage is married by customary law to any person other than the person with whom such marriage is proposed to be contracted.
Once both parties have fully satisfied the above criteria, the registrar signs a declaration or a marriage licence/affidavit and issues it to the couple signifying that he has passed them fit to marry. This licence is not the marriage certificate.
The couple about to wed is expected to swear an affidavit before the registrar or a minister of a legally recognized church. During the process of swearing affidavit, the registrar would read out the following requirements and explain the penalties involved.
If the couple about to wed violates any of the rules which include:
- One of the claimants being already married;
- One of the parties at the time of giving the written testimony is lying;
- False personal data are used at the wedding;
- The betrothed enter into marriage without relatives’ written consent (this happens in certain cases);
- A person tries to impede the registration procedure under false pretences
- The marriage was registered by an unauthorized official
This will lead to prosecution of any party found guilty and the person may be jailed for up to a period of five years. One of the most common violation is that of one of the claimants being married and failing to properly dissolve his/her previous marriage before entering into a new one but if there is no breach of the rules, the registrar signs a declaration or affidavit to show that the couple understands the implications under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and have met and satisfied all that they are required to do.
Once the necessary consent to the marriage has been gotten, the Minister will proceed with the giving of notice, he will also issue the certificate, and grant his/her licence, known as “Form D”. This Form D allows for the celebration of a marriage between both parties named in such licence.
Once the legal authorization has been granted, the couple will then choose a wedding date that is to be within three (3) months from the date the marriage notice was first placed with the registry.
This step is the most important step as it is the day of the wedding. On this day, the couple comes along with their family and friends as witnesses to finalize the marriage ceremony and become legally married. Because of the fact that many other couples are usually present at the venue for the same reason the same day, the court wedding ceremony is usually not longer than thirty (30) minutes.
During the proceedings, the registrar would print the marriage certificates in duplicate and with counterfoils as in the “Form E”. The certificate will then be signed in duplicate by the officiating minister, by the parties, and by two or more witnesses to the marriage. The minister having also signed his name to the counterfoil will deliver one certificate to the parties, and within seven days, thereafter file the same in his office. Every registrar will then register the marriage in a book called the Marriage Register Book, and every certificate of marriage is filed in his office according to the “Form F”. After this has been done, the marriage is recognized by the law as legal.