Unlike typical Indian weddings, court marriages are solemnised in conformity with the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (referred to as ‘the act’). The court marriage occurs or is solemnised in the presence of a Marriage Officer and three witnesses in the court. These marriages may not have to add more complex customary or ceremonial stages of the partners’ laws. Marrying in the presence of a marriage official in compliance with the statute makes it a lawful marriage.
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Conditions for Court Marriage
Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act specifies the judicial marriage regulations.
- When accepting the Civil Marriage Contract, the parties must satisfy the requirements outlined in the statute.
- There should be no existing, legitimate marriage between either of the parties and anybody else. If the prior spouse is no longer alive or divorced, the pair can proceed with the court marriage.
- The parties must have provided free consent for the court marriage, which means that none of the court marriage parties is incapable of giving legal permission owing to incompetence or any other circumstance.
- The marriageable age for a groom is 21 years, and the marriageable age for a bride is 18.
- Participants in the marriage should not be in a forbidden relationship of any kind.
Documents required for a court marriage
The following documents are required in a court marriage:
- Couples must fill out and sign an application form.
- Receipt of payment for filing District Court application.
- Documentary proof of both partners’ birth dates
- Documentary evidence of one of the parties’ presence for more than 30 days
- Affidavits from the bride and groom separately provide the following:
- The date of birth
- Current marital status: single/widow/divorcee.
- Affirmation that the parties do not relate in the sense of a forbidden connection as defined by the Special Marriage Act.
- Passport-sized pictures of both parties (two copies each) certified by a Gazetted Officer
- In the event of a divorcee, a copy of the divorce decree/order; in the case of a widow/widower, a copy of the spouse’s death certificate.
Documents needed in the case of a foreign national:
A judicial wedding between an Indian and a foreigner requires the following in addition to the other documents listed above:
- A photocopy of your passport and visa
- One of the parties must provide verifiable evidence of a 30-day or more extended stay in India (proof of residence or report from the concerned SHO)
- A certificate of no-objection certificate (NOC) or a certificate of marital status from the relevant embassy
How does a court marriage work in India?
In Chapter II, ‘Solemnisation of exceptional marriages’, the following are the general phases of a judicial marriage:
Step 1 – Notification of the planned marriage
Section 5 of the legislation states that the first step in the judicial marriage procedure is to inform the marriage officer. The parties must notify the Marriage Officer of their intention to marry in writing and the manner provided in the Second Schedule. The Marriage Officer must have authority in the district where at least one of the parties has resided for at least 30 days before the notification is issued.
Step 2 – Publication
The Marriage Officer shall publish the notification by affixing it to a prominent location in his office. The Marriage Officer must keep all authentic copies of the notices in the Marriage Notice Book.
Suppose the parties do not continuously dwell in the Marriage Officer’s jurisdiction. In such a case, the officer should transmit a copy of the notice to the marriage officer of the location the parties permanently reside. The composition of the information can be fastened to some visible place in his office.
Step 3 – Marriage opposition
Under section 7, an individual may oppose the marriage before the Marriage Officer because it would violate any requirements mentioned in Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The Marriage Officer must note the nature of the complaint in the Marriage Notice Book. Any objection to the marriage should be filed within 30 days of the Marriage Officer’s publication of the notification.
Marriage Officers are required by Section 8 to investigate objections within 30 days and to solemnise a marriage if the complaint does not prevent it from occurring. If the objection is sustained, the marriage officer may refuse to perform the wedding, and the parties may seek help from the District Court.
Step 4 – Declaration of parties and witnesses
Three witnesses and the parties should sign a statement in the form stipulated in the Third Schedule, which the Marriage Officer shall then countersign.
- Any document used by the Marriage Officer to identify the witnesses (Driving Licence, PAN Card, etc.). Each of the three witnesses should have a passport-sized picture.
Step 5 – Solemnisation Location and Form
Section 12 allows a court marriage to be solemnised at the Marriage Officer’s office or any other location within a reasonable distance.
The marriage is only valid if one-party states to the other, in the appearance of the Marriage Officer and three witnesses, ‘I, (A), accept thee (B), to be my lawful wife (or husband)’. The parties may choose to have their marriage solemnised in any way they see fit.
Step 6 – Marriage Certificate
The marriage officer records a certificate in the marriage certificate book in the manner stipulated in Schedule IV Special Marriage Act, 1954. A certificate signed by both spouses and three witnesses is proof of the judicial marriage.
Who can be a witness to court marriage?
A witness to a court marriage can be anyone, including a family member, a family acquaintance, a coworker, or a friend. In addition, three witnesses should solemnise a lawful court marriage.
Documents proving the identity of the witnesses are necessary for a court marriage. The witness must provide the following documents for the court marriage:
- Residential verification of the witness is the most important document to be presented to the marriage officer.
- Witnesses must also submit their PAN cards to the marriage officer.
- Each of the three witnesses to the marriage must provide one passport-size photograph.
- A witness’s identity document is required, such as a driver’s licence or an Aadhar card.
Total time for the court marriage procedure
Typically, the complete process of solemnising a court marriage takes between 30 and 60 days. Marriage objections can be raised within 30 days after publication of the notice of intent. If any complaints are submitted within that period, the marriage officer can investigate it in 30 days.
Note: If a marriage is not solemnised within 3 months of the notice, the marriage officer must issue a new notification for new behaviour.
What is the cost of court marriage in India?
In each state, the court marriage charge varies. Fees for judicial marriage procedures typically range from Rs.500 to Rs.1000. However, it is best to double-check the costs before submitting the court marriage application form.
Exceptions and other Conditions in the Procedure for Court Marriage
There are certain exceptions to the qualifying conditions for court marriage. Marriage is banned between the prohibited degrees of relationship. However, marriage can be solemnised between the prohibited degrees of relationship if your culture allows it.
- Even if it is customary for one of the parties to a marriage to marry in a banned relationship, this exemption is nonetheless applicable.
- If the marriage occurs in Jammu and Kashmir, both parties must be Indian nationals. It implies that in the form of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no procedure for getting married in court with foreign nationals.
- Foreign nationals must reside in India for 30 days before getting married under the Special Marriage Act of 1954. They must also confirm residency.
- If they do not have Indian resident documentation, they can obtain it from the local police station in the jurisdiction where they live.
Issues of Court Marriage
One aspect of the Indian Court Marriage system is that it is very simple compared with customary marriages, beginning with submitting an online application for Court Marriage and ending with the registration of Court Marriage.
Although it is the most simple method of marrying your loved one, a court marriage may have some complexity. The following are the few difficulties that may arise during a Court Marriage procedure:
- The marriage registrar determines the dates for court marriage and will assign a day for the intending parties to appear in person to solemnise their court marriage.
- Even if an early date is required due to an emergency, it is not feasible to schedule an earlier date. The date must be provided 30 days before the date of publication of the notice. It is to check if there are any objections.
- Any individual can prohibit a court marriage from being solemnised for an extended period by filing an objection within a specific time limit. The decision is then dependent on the marriage officer’s determination and findings on the subject.
- The court marriage procedure may be delayed on an objection until the marriage officer resolves the complaint.
- On applying for the Court Marriage procedure online, the couple must present before the marriage registrar for the marriage to be solemnised. Furthermore, web portals are not available in all sections of the nation.
- Marriage notices must be filed with the marriage registry office of the parties within 30 days of the union so that you cannot travel anywhere else in India to complete the marriage procedure.
- The documentation submitted, the costs to be paid, and the Marriage Officers appointed vary by location. It is generally following the rules established by the individual states.
- For a marriage to be solemnised, you must send new documents to the marriage officer if it has not been solemnised within 3 months of the marriage notice.
Advantages of a court marriage
The following are the benefits of a court marriage:
- The procedure is less costly and simple.
- The bride and groom choose to solemnise their marriage in whatever way they see fit. For example, two Hindus can opt to have a Christian-style wedding if they so choose
- The married couple does not need to reapply to the marriage official to have their marriage registered.
- The marriage certificate obtained after the court marriage is definitive proof of the parties’ union, and there is no need to establish it differently through evidence. It is an element of the courtship process.
Court marriages are becoming increasingly common in India, with many couples choosing it these days. There are various reasons why court marriages are now the favoured option. One explanation for this is that couples desire to make their marriage inexpensive and straightforward. Another explanation is a rise in inter-caste weddings or marriages that do not have the families’ blessings. In any event, court marriage is not a simple affair. There are several processes to follow, and the participants must also pay court marriage expenses.
In India, what are the court marriage fees?
In India, the cost of a court marriage varies by state.
In Maharashtra, for example, court marriage procedure fees involve the applicant submitting a memorandum of marriage form affixed with a Rs.100 court fee stamp. If the wedding card is not available, Rs 100 gets levied. The bride and groom must also pay Rs. 95 (court marriage costs are subject to change) as a fee at the counter, for which they will receive a Challan (Receipt).
Who can be a witness to the Court Marriage?
A witness to a Court Marriage can be anyone, including a family member, a family acquaintance, a coworker, or a friend. In addition, three witnesses are required to solemnise a lawful Court Marriage.
Do you need your parents' permission to marry in court?
According to court marriage guidelines, parents' consent is not required for a court marriage procedure as long as other prerequisites are met.