Law Notes

What Is Solemnization In The Context of Marriage?

What Is Solemnization In The Context of Marriage?

Solemnization refers, marriage on the authority of a superintendent registrar’s certificate (whether by licence or without a licence) may be solemnized in a superintendent registrar’s office, in a registered building, in the place where a house-bound or detained person is, or according to the usages Of the Society Of Friends or Of the Jews.’ In any case the marriage must be solemnized within three months of the entry being made in the marriage notice book’, and. unless it is a Quaker or Jewish marriage, it must also be solemnized between 8 am and 6 pm, with open doors and in the presence of at least two witnesses in addition to the superintendent registrar and registrar or, alternatively, the registrar of authorized person.

What Is Solemnization In The Context of Marriage?
What Is Solemnization In The Context of Marriage?

Solemnization Marriage in a register office.

The parties may marry in the office of the superintendent registrar to whom the notice of the intended marriage was given (or, if notice was given to two superintendent registrars, in the office of either of them), in the presence of the superintendent registrar and also of a registrar of marriages. They must declare that they know of no impediment why they should not be joined in matrimony and then contract the marriage per verba de praesenti. No religious service may be used in a superintendent registrar’s office, but, if the parties so wish, the marriage there may be followed by a religious ceremony in a church or chapel. In this case the marriage which is legally binding for all purposes is that in the register office.’ This provision is useful if the parties wish to be married in a private chapel in which banns may not be published (eg, the chapel of an Oxford or Cambridge college) without being put to the expense of obtaining a special licence or in a non-conformist place of worship which is not a registered building.

Solemnization Marriage in a registered building.

Any building which is certified as a place of religious worship 6 may be registered by the Registrar General for the solemnization of marriages. 7 A superintendent registrar may normally issue a certificate or certificate and licence for the solemnization of a marriage in a registered building only within his own district, or, where the marriage is without a licence and the parties reside in different districts, within the district in which either of them resides.’ In two cases, however, he may issue a certificate (with or without licence) for the solemnization of a marriage in another district. First, he may do so if there is not in the district in which one of the parties resides a registered building in which marriages are solemnized according to the practices Of the religious body to which one of them belongs. 9 Secondly, he may issue a certificate for the solemnization of the marriage in a registered building which is the usual place of worship Of one of the parties.

A marriage in a registered building may take place only if there is present a registrar of marriages or an •authorised person’. I i It will be recalled that since the Marriage Act of 1898 the trustees or governing body of a registered building have been empowered to authorize a person to be present at a marriage there and thus dispense with the necessity of having a registrar in attendance. 1 2 The authorized person will, of course, normally be a minister of the particular faith or,denomination. The functions of the registrar (or authorized person) are to ensure that certificates (and. if necessary. a licence) have been issued, that the provisions of the Marriage Act relating to the solemnization are complied with, and to register the marriage. The marriage may be in any form provided that, at some stage in the ceremony, a declaration is made similar to that required when the marriage is in a register , and the parties contract the union per verba de praesenti.

Solemnization Marriages Of house-bound and detained persons.

The requirement that the marriage must be solemnized in a register office or a registered building meant that a person could not marry on a superintendent registrar’s certificate at all if he was incapable of leaving home or any other building (for example, a hospital or prison) where he happened to be. (Indeed it was not uncommon for a prisoner to be released for a short period to enable him to marry.) As we shall see, the position was partly ameliorated by the provisions of the Marriage (Registrar General’s Licence) Act 1970, but these apply only to those who are fatally ill. A much wider relaxation has been afforded by the Marriage Act 1983 which enables a house-bound or detained person to be married in the place where he is for the time being.

A house-bound person is defined as one who, owing to illness or disability, ought not to be moved from the place where he is and who is likely to remain in this condition for three months. A detained person is one who is detained in a mental hospital (otherwise than for short periods for assessment) or prison.14 Notice of the proposed marriage must be accompanied by a statement signed by a medical practitioner that the person in question satisfies the definition Of ‘house-bound’ or signed by the hospital managers or prison governor identifying the establishment where the person is detained and certifying that there is no objection to the establishment being specified as the place where the marriage is to take place. The house-bound or detained person is deemed to be resident in the place where he is for the time being. A major limitation imposed by the Act is that no marriage may take place under its provisions on the authority of a superintendent registrar’s certificate by licence.

The marriage may take place only in the building where the house-bound or detained person is. It may take the form of a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony (including a ceremony according to the rites Of the Church of England) but Quaker and Jewish marriages are unaffected by the Act. Unless the marriage is solemnized according to the rites of the Church of England (when the service must be taken by a clerk in holy orders), a registrar must be present and, if the ceremony is a purely civil one, the superintendent registrar must be present as well.

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