Court Marriage means solemnizing a marriage according to the law. Couples may opt for a court marriage due to various reasons. One common reason in India is marrying against the wishes of family. Another reason is to avoid the hefty expenses on a big fat wedding. A court marriage keeps things simple and economical. Whatever be the reason, it is important to know the court marriage procedure before taking the plunge.
In India, a court marriage takes place under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Court marriage procedure: The step-by-step guide
The procedure is not too complex, but not simple either. It involves many stages, steps, and documents. The first thing to do is to determine whether you are eligible for a court marriage.
Eligibility for court marriage
Individuals from any religion can opt for a court marriage. The law is clear about it. You can belong to the same religion or two different religions. It does not affect the process of court marriage.
Indian laws still do not allow same sex marriages. So, the marriage can take place only between a male and a female.
Moreover, the law says that any two persons can get married under this act. The condition is they should fulfill the eligibility criteria. This means that it is not compulsory to be an Indian citizen for getting married under this Act.
Both the bride and the groom must fulfill the following conditions.
- They should not have a living husband/wife at the time of marriage.
- They should not be incapable of giving consent due to unsound mind.
- Even if they can give consent, they should not have a mental disorder which makes them unfit for marriage or having children.
- They must not suffer from insanity or epilepsy.
- The bride should be at least 18 years old and the groom at least 21.
- Both parties must not be within prohibited relationship with each other.
You can find the details of such prohibited relationships below. People within such relationship cannot get married under this Act.
Degree of prohibited relationship: Part-I
2. Father’s widow (step-mother)
3. Mother’s mother
4. Mother’s father’s widow (step grand-mother)
5. Mother’s mother’s mother
6. Mother’s mother’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
7. Mother’s father’s mother
8. Mother’s father’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
9. Father’s mother
10. Father’s father’s widow (step-grandmother)
11. Father’s mother’s mother
12. Father’s mother’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
13. Father’s father’s mother
14. Father’s father’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
16. Son’s widow
17. Daughter’s daughter
18. Daughter’s son’s widow
19. Son’s daughter
20. Son’s son’s widow
21. Daughter’s daughter’s daughter
22. Daughter’s daughter’s son’s widow
23. Daughter’s son’s daughter
24. Daughter’s son’s son’s widow
25. Son’s daughter’s daughter
26. Son’s daughter’s son’s widow
27. Son’s son’s daughter
28. Son’s son’s son’s widow
30. Sister’s daughter
31. Brother’s daughter
32. Mother’s sister
34. Father’s brother’s daughter
35. Father’s sister’s daughter
36. Mother’s sister’s-daughter
37. Mother’s brother’s daughter
Here, the word widow also means a divorced wife.
Degree of prohibited relationship: Part-II
2. Mother’s husband (step-father)
3. Father’s father
4. Father’s mother’s husband (step-grandmother)
5. Father’s father’s father
6. Father’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
7. Father’s mother’s father
8. Father’s mother’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
9. Mother’s father
10. Mother’s mother’s husband (step-grandfather)
11. Mother’s father’s father
12. Mother’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)
13. Mother’s mother’s father
14. Mother’s mother’s mother’s husband(step-great-grandfather)
16. Daughter’s husband
17. Son’s son
18. Son’s daughter’s husband
19. Daughter’s son
20. Daughter’s daughter’s husband
21. Son’s son’s son
22. Son’s son’s daughter’s husband
23. Son’s daughter’s son
24. Son’s daughter’s daughter’s husband
25. Daughter’s son’s son
26. Daughter’s son’s daughter’s husband
27. Daughter’s daughter’s son
28. Daughter’s daughter’s daughter’s husband
30. Brother’s son
31. Sister’s son
32. Mother’s brother
33. Father’s brother
34. Father’s brother’s son
35. Father’s sister’s son
36. Mother’s sister’s son
37. Mother’s brother’s son
Here, the word husband also means a divorced husband.
Exceptions and other conditions
The eligibility conditions above have some exceptions.
First, even if you are within degrees of prohibited relationship, you can get married if your custom allows you to do so. This exception will apply even when the customs of only one of the parties allow such marriage.
The second exception is the citizenship rule for court marriages in Jammu & Kashmir. If the marriage is taking place in the state of J & K, then both parties must be citizens of India. Moreover, both parties should have domicile in a state to which this act applies. This means that foreign nationals cannot get married in Jammu & Kashmir under this Act.
There is another condition for foreigners. They must live in India for at least 30 days before the marriage. They can get a proof of residence from their local police station.
Process of court marriage in 5 steps
Court marriage in India takes place in 5 steps.
Step 1: Notice of marriage
The first step is to give a notice of marriage to the marriage officer. The couple needs to give notice to the marriage officer of the district where at least one of them is residing for 30 days before giving notice.
Step 2: Publishing of notice and compulsory waiting period
The marriage officer will display the notice in his office at a place where it is visible.
He also needs to forward the notice to the district of each party’s permanent residence.
After display of the notice in the above manner, the compulsory waiting period of 30 days begins. Anyone can object to the marriage within this period. But, the objection should be as per the Act and the eligibility conditions. Any person who believes that the marriage violates one or more eligibility conditions can object to it. But, not otherwise. So, if a person objects to your marriage due to some other reason, he has no legal basis of doing so.
If there is no objection to the marriage within 30 days of publishing the above notice, the marriage officer can perform the marriage.
Step 3: Objections and investigation
If the marriage officer receives an objection, he will record it in the notice book. He will then investigate the objection. If he feels that the objection does not come in the way of marriage, he can go ahead and perform the marriage.
If the marriage officer finds the objection to be valid, he can refuse to solemnize the marriage.
In any case, he cannot take more than 30 days to arrive at a decision.
In case of refusal, the couple can appeal to the district magistrate within 30 days of such decision.
Step 4: Declaration by parties and witnesses
The Bride, the Groom, and three witnesses need to sign the below declaration in the presence of the marriage officer. It is not necessary to sign the declaration in the marriage officer’s office. If the parties wish, they can do it at any other place which is at a reasonable distance.
Moreover, the parties can choose the manner of solemnizing the marriage. But, the marriage will not be complete without both parties saying the below words. The parties can say these words in any language that they understand.
I (A) take (B) to be my lawful wife (or husband)
After saying the above words, the bride and the groom become husband and wife. The last remaining step is to get a marriage registration certificate.
Step 5: Marriage registration certificate
The marriage officer will enter the marriage certificate in the Marriage Certificate Book. The couple and three witnesses need to sign this certificate.
So, this is how a court marriage takes place in India. There are many common questions that come to every couple’s mind. Below you can find the answers to some such questions.
Who is the marriage officer?
Usually, the SDM/ADM or /Deputy Commissioners of a city act as marriage officers.
Which forms do we need to fill?
The primary form is the notice of intended marriage. Other than this, you and your witnesses also need to fill and sign a declaration.
What is the fee for court marriage in India?
The fee may vary from one state to another. For example, the registration fee in Delhi is Rs. 15. You need to pay it to the cashier of the district. The cashier will then issue a receipt of payment of the fee.
Apart from this, there are some other expenses too. For example,stamp duty for the affidavits, printing expenses, and photos. These expenses may range between Rs. 400-500.
What is the timeline of a court marriage procedure?
If there is no objection to the marriage, you can complete the procedure as soon as the 30 day waiting period is over. If there is an objection, the entire court marriage procedure may take as long as 60 days.
What documents do we need for a court marriage?
For going through a court marriage procedure, you need the following documents.
- Application form filled and signed by both the bride and the groom.
- Receipt of payment of fee.
- Separate affidavits from bride and groom. They need affidavits for DOB, marital status, and relationship with each other.
- 2 attested passport sized photos (each) of the bride and the groom.
- Copy of divorce decree/order or death certificate (if applicable).
- Proof of date of birth (DOB) such as copies of matriculation certificate or passport.
- Proof of stay in the particular district for more than 30 days. You can submit documents like Ration Card or a report from the local SHO.
This analysis covers the court marriage procedure in India in complete detail. If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment and get in touch.
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