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A Step By Step Guide to Court Marriage in India

Court marriages in India take place under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. It is followed all across the nation. If a couple decides to get married in court, there is no discrimination based on caste, color, creed, religion, etc. If one wishes to get married to someone of a different religion, they can as the court allows people of other faiths to get married. A court marriage means solemnizing the marriage according to law. We have listed a step-by-step guide on-court marriage in India and a few other essential things that may cross your mind. Keep scrolling to find out more!

Court Marriage Procedure in India – Your Step by Step Guide

Photo: Malvika Sitlani Aryan

Court marriages in India are governed under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Mentioned below in detail is the procedure to get married in court in India.

Step 1

The first and foremost step towards getting married in court is to check if you can do so. You will be eligible to get married in court if you meet all the criteria. Kindly refer below to the eligibility criteria for court marriage in India.

Step 2

The second step towards getting married in court is to file a ‘Notice of Intended Marriage then.’ You can file the notice in a certain way explained in the Second Schedule of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The schedule must include both parties’ information such as age, marital status, occupation, and permanent place if the current residence location isn’t permanent. 

File the notice to the Marriage Officer in the district where at least one of the parties intending to get married had resided for a period not less than thirty days before submission.

The Marriage officer would then enter all these necessary details in the marriage office records, and then these records need to be kept open for inspection for those who wish to inspect the same. A copy of the notice should also be displayed in the office.

In case the bride or the groom is not permanently residing where the marriage officer to whom the document was sent, then that marriage officer should forward the notice to the marriage officer in the district where both the parties are permanently residing. 

Step 3

There is a compulsory waiting notice period of thirty days for the court marriage once the notice has been sent out. Within the thirty days of the waiting period, anyone can object to this court marriage notice. An objection can only be made if the eligibility criteria mentioned below are being contravened by the parties intending to get married.

In case an objection has been made, then the marriage office should investigate the same and decide within thirty days. Court marriage cannot be solemnized unless the marriage officer decides this.

Suppose the marriage officer upholds the objection made and the solemnization of the marriage is refused. In that case, either of the parties intending to get married can appeal to the district court with jurisdiction where the marriage office is located.

Such an appeal will only be considered valid if filed within thirty days from the day on which the marriage officer made the refusal. The final decision would be of the district court, and the marriage officer has no option but to abide by the decision.

Step 4

Upon completing the compulsory thirty-day waiting period and if no objection has been made or even if it has been made, and the decision favors both the parties intending to get married, then the solemnization of the intended marriage is permitted.

Step 5

On the day of the court marriage, the couple intending to get married in court should have three people who would act as their marriage witness in court. On the day of the court marriage, before the wedding is solemnized, the couple, along with their three marriage witnesses, have to sign a declaration in the Marriage Officer’s presence. The Marriage office will then countersign the document. 

The solemnization of the marriage doesn’t necessarily need to take place at the Marriage Officer’s office. It can occur at any location close to the Marriage Officer’s office if the couple is willing to do that.

The marriage would not be termed as completed unless each of the parties says to the other(in any language they are comfortable in) ‘I_____, take _____, to be my lawful wife/husband. This sentence needs to be uttered in the presence of the marriage office and the three witnesses.

Step 6

Once the marriage has been solemnized, the Marriage Officer will enter a marriage certificate and present it to the couple. He will also enter all the necessary details in the Marriage Certificate Book. The presented marriage certificate needs to be signed by the couple and their three witnesses. This marriage certificate acts as evidence of court marriage in India.

Eligibility Criteria For Court Marriage In India

Photo: WeddingNama Photography

The process of court marriage in India is standard across the nation. It takes place under the particular marriage act, 1954, without any discrimination done for both parties basis on caste, creed, religion, or color. The government has decided on specific eligibility criteria with regards to court marriage in India. Keep reading to find out the eligibility criteria to get married in court in India.

  1. Both parties should not have lived as husband and wife at the time of the court marriage.
  2. The bride needs to be at least 18 years of age, while the groom needs to be at least 21 years of age.
  3. Both the bride and groom should not be of unsound mind at the time of the court marriage.
  4. They both should be able to give valid consent at the time of the marriage.
  5. At the time of court marriage, both the bride and groom should not suffer from mental disorder or insanity.
  6. Both parties should not be within the degree of a prohibited relationship. In other words, court marriage can occur with a prohibited relationship if their custom favors doing so.
  7. Neither parties have a living spouse at the time of applying for court marriage.
  8. Both parties are fit for the procreation of children.

It is imperative to keep these eligibility criteria in mind before going ahead with a court marriage in India. These are applicable across the nation and not just in any particular state or place. 

Documents Required For A Court Marriage

Court marriage in India can become a long and tedious procedure if you lack all the necessary information. One such important aspect to keep in mind are the documents that are needed for a court marriage. Below is the list of documents that the bride and groom need to carry along when getting legally married in Court in India. Take a look!

  1. Age proof of both the parties. For this, you can present your birth certificate, passport, or matriculation certificate.
  2. The residential proof of both the parties. For this, you can present voters id, passport, electricity bill, gas bill, or ration card in the parties’ name.
  3. Receipt of payment of marriage application form and other marriage-related fees.
  4. If you are not applying from your permanent place of residence, then in such cases, the residential proof is needed. You can present either the ration card or a report from the Station House Officer.
  5. Affidavits from both the parties regarding their date of birth, current marital status(unmarried/divorced/widowed)
  6. Confirmation on the parties, not falling within degrees of prohibited relation of each other.
  7. Two passport-sized photographs each of the bride and the groom.
  8. In the case of divorcees, a divorce decree certificate is compulsory.
  9. In the case of a widow or widower, a Municipal death certificate of the deceased is compulsory.

Remember, all the mentioned above documents should have one original and one xerox attested copy. The applicants must also have scanned copies of all the mentioned above documents in an online procedure. 

Documents Required To Be Carried By The Witnesses For A Court Marriage

Not just the bride and groom but even their witnesses need to carry a set of documents while going to the court. Mentioned below is the list of the documents required to be presented by the witness in court.

  1. Ration Card of the witness
  2. Passport, if any
  3. Voter’s ID
  4. Driving License, if any

Do remember to discuss this and also carry these documents along. It is ideal for maintaining the original copies of these documents and a xerox copy and scanned copies.

Specific Things To Consider Before Court Marriage

Here are some essential pointers to keep in mind or mainly doubts regarding court marriages in India in the minds of the people intending to getting legally married in court. 

  • When you go to the court to get legally married, the total number of forms that need to be filled by the bride and groom are two. The first form is the one that is sent as a notice to the court for the intended marriage. The second form is the one that needs to be signed before the solemnizing of the wedding takes place. 
  • A lot of people wonder how long it does take to get married in court. Well, it is nothing like what we’ve seen in movies. Generally, the time taken depends on two things. First, court marriage can be solemnized right after the compulsory waiting period of 30days get over if there are no objections taken. Second, when a complaint has been taken, the court marriage procedure can even take up to sixty days.
  • If the couple clears all the needed eligibility criteria, there is no need for any permissions required by either parties’ parents or relatives as per the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
  • The court marriage fee depends and differs from state to state. There is nothing fixed that has been provided, and also, in every case, it is very reasonable and economical.

We hope these few points would have cleared a few doubts in your mind.

Benefits Of Court Marriage

These days, many couples prefer getting married in court before they get traditionally married as per their traditions. They believe that there are a lot of benefits to doing so. Some of which are listed below. 

  1. Brides and grooms feel that getting married in court is a much simpler process and also very economical.
  2. Most couples these days prefer to get married only in court and skip their traditional marriage rituals. Getting married in court saves a considerable expense compared to when you would need to get traditionally married.
  3. Both parties getting married have an option to solemnize the marriage in any given way that they want to.
  4. Getting married in court ensures that both parties’ consent is there as they both willingly sign the marriage documents in court. When it comes to a traditional wedding, it’s not necessary that both parties’ consent is needed. 
  5. Court marriages seem to be less stressful for the couple as compared to getting married traditionally.
  6. It is also most opted for as the process is faster and easier to perform.

Well, these were some top benefits of getting married in court legally. If you think there could be more or different from these, then do let us know. We would love to hear from you! 

Conclusion

In India, marriage is considered to be a very sacred process. Be it court marriage or the traditional one. With everything explained above, it is clear that court marriage in India is solemnized under the particular marriage act, 1954. Couples these days prefer getting married in court as it is done in a legal environment and under the law’s eyes. Hence, the chances of any fraud in such an environment are a bare minimum. If you agree or have been married in court before, do let us know in the comment section below, and we would love to know.

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