In India, court marriage is solemnized either by the Marriage Act of 1954 or the Special Marriage Act. Under both these Acts, a court marriage process can be performed when a person marries someone of the opposite sex and the man is above 21 years and the woman is above 18 years of age.
The Hindu Marriage Act comes into force when both parties are Hindus. For inter-caste marriages, court marriage is conducted under the Special Marriage Act.
The parties can be of Indian or foreign descent. The court marriage rules include other conditions such as the parties should not be in an existing marriage with other persons and that they should be of sound mind.
A court marriage does away with rituals and ceremonies and is simple. The procedure of court marriage is performed by the Marriage Registrar and upon completion; the participants are given a court marriage certificate stating that their union is legal in the eyes of the law.
The court marriage is gaining popularity in India and many couples are opting for it these days. There are numerous reasons why court marriage rules are the preferred choices these days. One of the reasons for this is that couples want to keep their marriage economical and simple. Other reasons are because of an increase in the number of inter-caste marriages, or marriages without the blessings of the families. Whatever be the case, court marriage is not a simple affair. It involves a lot of procedures and the participants need to bear court marriage fees as well.
What are the Steps involved in a Court Marriage in India?
Informing about the intended marriage
The first step of the procedure of court marriage is to inform the marriage officer of the district about your intention to marry. You have to do this by filling up the court marriage application form (as mentioned in Schedule II of the Act) that can also be downloaded from the internet. You have to submit the form 30 days before the date of the marriage to the officer of the district where either of the participants resides in.
Displaying the Notice
The marriage registrar of the district will display the notice at a prominent place at his office for 30 days. Within this period, anyone can object to the marriage if it is deemed illegal under the Act and the prescribed eligibility conditions. Section 7 of the Special Marriage Act says that any person having an objection to the marriage intended can raise so within 30 days from the publication of the notice.
On the receipt of any such objection, the marriage registrar checks the validity of the same. On being reasonably satisfied with the validity of the objection, the registrar can end the court marriage process then and therein. In this case, the parties may appeal to the concerned district court, against the order of the marriage registrar.
If there is no valid objection, the officer can proceed with the procedure of court marriage, as per the laid down court marriage rules.
Day of Marriage
The bride, groom, and three witnesses need to sign a declaration form in the presence of the marriage registrar or at a location that is reasonably close to the registrar’s office (as per Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act). The declaration would state that the parties are proceeding with the court marriage, in their consent.
Court Marriage Certificate
Once all the formalities are completed, the marriage registrar inserts the details of the court marriage in the court marriage certificate. This is as per provisions mentioned in Schedule IV of the Special Marriage Act. The certificate will be issued within 15 to 30 days.
The entire court marriage process usually takes 30 to 60 days to complete.
What is the Cost of a Court Marriage in India?
The court marriage fees for registration
The court marriage fees are different from one state to another. Every state is at liberty to frame its own court marriage rules and regulations. Accordingly, the court marriage fees structure also varies between states. Therefore, it is advisable to check the application fee and other fees related to the procedure of court marriage, before going ahead with the online application of a court marriage certificate.
In general, the court marriage fees for application are Rs.100 under the Hindu Marriage Act and Rs.150 under the Special Marriage Act. Apart from this, there are a few administrative and other charges you may have to incur.
The amount charged by court marriage lawyers
This would depend on the type of case. A straightforward case is cheaper. However, if the case is complicated, say a divorce case, the lawyers may charge you a bit more. In a complicated case, the lawyers may charge you for their legal opinion provided, in addition to their case appearance fees.
FAQs on Court Marriage in India
Can you get married online?
No, one cannot get married online, a visit to the marriage officer’s office. However, you can get all the forms online, fill them up and submit them to the marriage officer.
How many witnesses do you need for a court marriage?
Although you will be getting married on your own consent in the presence of the marriage officer, you will need to have at least three witnesses at the ceremony.
Can someone object to your marriage, even though you are marrying in court?
Yes, the marriage officer gives a period of 30 days for anyone to object. However, the reasons should be logical and valid under Chapter II, Section 4 of the marriage act.
Do you need a copy of the marriage certificate?
Yes, you do need to keep a signed copy of the marriage certificate as this document proves that you are legally married to your partner. It is the conclusive evidence of the Court Marriage.
Can you marry a foreign national through a court marriage?
If you or your partner are of the opposite sex and of legal age, you can marry anyone you want. However, the procedures are a bit different. Your lawyers will explain the process and formalities needed to marry a foreign national.
Are parents informed of the decision to marry?
No, no notice is sent to the home of the bride or groom. Instead, a notice is placed at the Registrar’s office for 30 days.