In Nigeria, the major document according to the law that regulates social relations as regards the family is the ‘Marriage Act’. The Marriage Act spells out the rights and responsibilities of the spouses as regards to children and other obligations and the legal consequences of divorce. A court marriage means getting married in court which thus makes the marriage legal.
Disadvantages of Court Marriage in Nigeria
Requirements for Court Marriage in Nigeria
There are requirements for the betrothed couple if they want to have a court marriage, these are:
At least one of the engaged couples must reside in the region where the marriage will be registered
Each of the applicants must be at least 21 years of age. However, if one of the applicants is under 21, the court will demand a written consent from his or her parents.
With a court marriage, there are no religious obstructions or rules to getting married except that both applicants must not be married to anyone else at the time.
The applicant can then swear at the office of the registrar. The ceremony of marriage registration may take place at the Registry Office. After the ceremony is over, the cleric must immediately fill the marriage certificate in two separate copies. The cleric would also write down the number of the marriage certificate, date of the marriage registration, names of couple and witnesses of the joining.
Both copies have to be signed by the cleric, spouses, and witnesses. After that, the spouses will take one of the copies of the marriage certificate while the second copy is sent to the local Registry Office.
Disadvantages of Court Marriage in Nigeria
There are many reasons why people opt for the option of having a court marriage in Nigeria. Such reasons could include not wanting to save up the money that would otherwise be used entertaining a large crowd. However, there are some disadvantages that come with a court marriage in Nigeria. Read on below:
Definition of roles according to tradition
Nigerian law does not define the specific rights and responsibilities of spouses in a registered marriage. However, the Nigerian law defines roles and responsibilities in marriage in Northern states of Nigeria where Islam is the predominant religion. Here, a woman’s role is limited to household chores. A man is given the right to restrict his wife’s movement within the country, according to the law, and to also restrict her communication with the outer world.
A major con when discussing court marriages is its time-consuming process. There are so many nuances to be bothered about when considering a court marriage in Nigeria. The process goes thus:
You visit the local Registry Office and then write a declaration of marriage. A registrar in the local Registry office provides you with a special form to fill. This form requires that you jot down all of your personal data such as your name, age, address, occupation, marital status, parents written consent (that is if you are under 21), and signature with two passport photographs.
After this, your notice will be properly scrutinized and posted on the door of the Registry Office. This will take 21 days. You will have to be patient and wait for about three months for all the paperwork to be sorted out. This wait can be really hard.
When the 21 days has expired the couple may come to the Registry Office to continue the procedure. Here, the couples must fill in three forms:
The first is an affidavit where the marriage applicants will write down their age and marital status (single, divorced or widowed). Here, one must specify if he or she is widowed or divorced. He or she would also have to produce the certificates as proof of the status specified, that is the divorce settlement or death certificate of the late spouse.
If a person is under 21, he or she must include written consent from his/her parents.
The second form is the ‘Prohibited Degree Form’ which is to tell the couples, the categories of people they are allowed or prohibited from being legally married to.
The third document requires that the couple jot down the names and surnames of parents, relatives and other witnesses.
After this, the couple will have to swear on the Bible or Quran that the personal information they had provided is correct and right. The tiresome part of the processes is now over. Both couples can then pick a suitable date which must be a Thursday, or Saturday if they have earlier applied for the special license.
Another disadvantage of court marriage is the thoroughness it demands from an applicant in filing all the documents. When filling the documents, one must provide personal information in all of the different forms.
Another is with the affidavit, which is a written notarized testimony. With the affidavit, if one makes a mistake, whether voluntarily or unintentionally, he or she would get into serious trouble with the law. The applicants must be completely honest and spot-on when filling all the forms in the local Registry Office. If a person does not provide accurate information, one can be jailed for up to five years.
Do not forget that court marriages are not free of charge. The couple has+ to pay a fee to the registry offices in order to get married according to the law. The prescribed fee differs according to regions but the cost is usually not more than N25,000. Also, every couple is required to wait for 21 days. However, if there is an urgent need to get married earlier, one will have to purchase a special license which increases the amount of the prescribed fee. Otherwise, when the 21 days has expired the couple can come to the Registry Office in order to continue the procedure.
Cases of Divorce
In cases where the couple wants their marriages annulled, it can pose a problem to either of the spouses. In the case of marriage dissolution, there are many instances when a spouse has lost a major bulk of their assets to the other.