Outline of The Ghana Court Marriage Procedure

The Ghana court marriage procedure seems to be a subject that many want to understand sufficiently well. Among them are persons planning a marriage and students prepping for a test. In this write-up I present an outline of the Ghana court marriage procedure, simple and easy to understand. ordinance-marriage-ghana

First, let’s define what court marriage is. In Ghana, some people use the term court marriage when they mean to say a marriage contracted under the Marriage Ordinance. That’s the term many ordinary folks call it, probably because it’s marriage made in the law court. Wedding, for them, is marriage officiated by a minister in church.

For the purpose of this article on the Ghana court marriage procedure, court means the marriage registry or any place authorised by the law, other than a place of worship, for the purpose of contracting and registering marriages.

Where court marriages are made

The places where court marriage is made include the Registrar General’s Department, Magistrate’s Courts and Circuit Courts, and District Assembly offices so designated under the law. Some popular marriage registries in Accra are located at the Registrar General’s Department, the head office of Accra Metropolitan Assembly, the Madina Circuit Court.

Here in this article, the Ghana court marriage procedure is outlined under the following subheadings:

  1. Meet the requirements for a court marriage
  2. File notice of marriage
  3. Notice of marriage to be published
  4. Get the registrar’s certificate
  5. Marriage ceremony at the registrar’s office
  6. Consummate the marriage
Preliminaries
  1. Meet the requirements for a court marriage

The first step to after you find a partner to marry is to check how well you meet the requirements to marry under Ghana’s marriage laws.

  • Partners must be members of opposite sexes, [as in a woman and a man].
  • Each partner must be 18 years old at least;
  • Partners must be of sound mind;
  • They must be single, or not in any existing marriage except in the case where the partners are customarily married as husband and wife;
  • At least one of the parties has been resident within the district in which the marriage is intended to be celebrated at least fifteen days preceding the granting of the registrar’s certificate;
  • Partners must not be related by kin or by affinity: Couple must not be closely related by common parentage or by reason of marriage.

 

  1. File notice of marriage

Go to the marriage registry in the district where you plan to have your marriage ceremony, and file a notice of marriage. There the couple submit biographical information about themselves to the registrar of marriages.

  1. Notice of marriage to be published

Official notice of the intended marriage is displayed publicly. Normally, this is done in by posting the notice on notice boards at the registry for 21 days.

  1. Get the registrar’s certificate

The couple or either of the partners may return to the marriage registry to be issued the registrar’s certificate. This must be done anytime after the 21 days’ but not longer than three months from the day of filing of the notice.

That registrar’s certificate authorises, on one hand, a couple to continue the marriage process, and also authorises the duly licensed marriage officer to officiate the marriage ceremony.

Again, the certificate is issued only when nobody files a valid caveat against the proposed marriage, and where there’s no lawful objection concerning the proposed marriage.

The Marriage
  1. Marriage ceremony at the registrar’s office

The partners may make arrangements to contract a marriage before a marriage registrar, anytime, but not longer than three months, after receiving the registrar’s certificate, and here’s what to expect for the procedure.

Time for marriage procedure

The law requires that the marriage contract procedure is done between the hours of 8 am, in the forenoon and 4 pm in the afternoon on any weekday not being a public holiday. Also, it must be done with the doors to the office kept open during the procedure, and in front of witnesses, so the law prescribes. This final procedure at the registry is a short one, and last for a couple of minutes only [about 10 minutes].

People involved

Persons involved here are the marriage registrar, the couple, and normally, two witnesses for each couple. The registrar, either directly or through an interpreter, asks the parties: “Do I understand you [mentions name of one partner] and you [name of the other partner] that you come here for the purpose of becoming man and wife?”

When the partners answer in the affirmative, the registrar proceeds, by saying to the partners: “Know ye that by the public taking of each other as man and wife in my presence and in the presence of the persons now here, and by the subsequent attestation thereof by signing your names to that effect, you become legally married to each other, although no other rite of a civil or religious nature shall take place, and that this marriage cannot be dissolved during your lifetime, except by a valid judgment of divorce, and if either of you before the death of the other, shall contract another marriage while this remains un-dissolved, you will be thereby guilty of bigamy, and liable to the punishment inflicted for that offence.”

Next, each of the parties then says to the other: “I call upon all persons here present to witness that I, [mentions own name], do take thee, [mentions partner’s name], to be my lawful wife (or husband).”

After that exchange, the registrar fills up, and he and the parties and witnesses sign the certificate of the marriage [in duplicate]. Then the registrar delivers one certificate to the parties, now duly married as husband and wife. That’s all for the marriage registry.

  1. Consummate the marriage

Here’s the final validation that the couple must give their marriage; a form of official seal, if you may. The new husband and wife are required to make the marriage complete by having sexual intercourse, and that, certainly, is not for the marriage registry, but just as important.

This is outline of the Ghana court marriage procedure, and I expect that helps you to see in your mind’s eye what the procedure is, and also you know what to expect if you’re going for a court wedding. I’ll be glad to answer your questions on the subject and equally happy to read your comments. So post one in the comment box below.


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44 thoughts on “Outline of The Ghana Court Marriage Procedure

  1. hello George AgboKlu,
    I have followed you a while on issues of marriage, thank you very much for your effort to enlighten the public especially us the upcoming youth.

    But i want to ask is it required of you to have your own apartment before the marriage by ordinance. or people can live separately after marriage.

    1. Hi Stephen, many thanks for your strong interest in my posts. Now to answer your question: I haven’t seen any requirement for a marriage by ordinance that obliges anyone to own apartment before marriage. But any two people who are married are expected to live as husband and wife, as valid grounds for divorce may arise where the parties to a marriage have not lived as man and wife for a continuous period of at least two years.

  2. Hi George,

    As marriage is a form of contract under the law, in case after the marriage one party discovers some deception or vitiating factor on the part of the other partner prior to the marriage contract which is deem detrimental to the successful co-existence of the couples, does the laws of Ghana provides protection or means of escape for the victim if proven valid?

  3. Please sir,after the customary marriage,can one decide to go sign at d court also?if yes,does it go through the same outline u mentioned? Thank you

  4. Hello George, I am curious about Ghana marriage laws and the procedure you have put forth here is quite helpful. My finance and I were engaged during my visit with her in Ghana last summer.
    We are planning the wedding ceremony for this summer in Ghana and I wish to bring her back to America with me. So Thank you for your efforts to inform those who wish to know about marriage in Ghana

    Pete Peterson
    U.S.A.

  5. Hello Georges how can i get married in Ghana even though not living there and either my fiance … I am from west Africa and my fiance as well but i live in US

  6. Dear George,
    please I have a question. I am from Austria, my boyfriend from Ghana. We already have a son together and want to marry in Ghana. Do I need special documents or only my passport? or also a document to proof that i have not married before? do I also have to bring along my birth certificate? if yes, do I have to legalize them before so that Ghana will accept it?I am looking forward to your answer. Thank you so much.

  7. please can someone go with our details and fill the notice of marriage forms for us because both of us are not around now butbwe will be there for the wedding

  8. Hello,
    I want to know is there a website that you can check to see if the person you plan marrying never been married and is there way I can do a back ground check on my fiancé. Me and my fiancé had meant 2 years ago and we are planning to get marry in July I want make sure we are doing it correctly. He currently lives and Ghana and I live in USA but I want make sure he is telling the truth.

  9. Hello…..Please who are the witnesses? Should they be your parents or any other family members can be your witnesses?

  10. Am being forced to marry a woman I don’t love because of pregnancy. Plz how do I get out of that marriage. We got married by ordinance

  11. Dear George,
    thanks for this structured and informative post. I wanted to know two things please:
    1) Does it mean that if my fiancé is a Ghanian and living in Chiraa but we want to marry in Accra, he first needs to live in the district Accra for some time (‘at least 15 days’) before the registrar’s certificate is granted ?
    2) Is it possible to marry faster than after the 21 days, because I can only stay for 2 weeks (am from UK). If yes, do you know the fees for a faster track please.

    Thank you in advance and God bless u.

  12. I am a US citizen and want to marry a Ghanaian man living in Ghana. I am going to Ghana for a week in january. Can he file the paperwork for the marriage certificate now and then when I go to Ghana in January we can marry while I’m there?? Also, how much does it cost to marry in Ghana?

  13. I am a US citizen living in USA, and I want to marry a Ghanaian man living in Ghana. I am going to Ghana in January but can only stay 7-10 days max. We want to marry then. But do we have to wait 21 days after I get there to marry, or can he file for the paperwork now without me being present, and by the time I get there in january it will be well past 21 days and we can marry then?? There is no possible way I can stay for 21 days. Please help! I also need to know the cost of the marriage. We are just going to marry at the court. Thank you

    1. Yes, he can do the preliminary paperwork. Fee for the usual 21 days procedure is about 220 Cedis. There’s the 1or 2 days procedure now, its fee is much higher, but I’ve not confirmed that amount.

  14. Hi George,

    Thank you for this informative post. I have a question. I live in the USA. My fiancé lives in Ghana. We plan to marry next year August and have an ordinance marriage. Can he file the notice of marriage and submit the biographical information needed on my behalf to the registrar of marriages without my presence?

  15. Please when you file the 21 days notice and its over, can you send a close relative to go to the court to help fix the date for the court wedding if you are in an inconvenient situation and cannot go yourself? Thank you.

  16. Hi sir i want to get married and my wife to be is in US and I am in Ghana but she can’t make it to the marriage ceremony can we still get married when she is not here or is there any other way Pls i want to know

  17. Thank you for your help in advance.

    My fiancé lives in Kumasi but we want to marry at AMA Accra. How will they see that he has been living in Accra for a while before our marriage, What do we need to show as a proof? I hope you can help u on that.
    Some relatives of mine live there, so could he mention their adress as his adress at AMA and stay there for a month?

  18. Hello I’m a uk citizen and im going to marry my Ghanian man in April over in Ghana he has registered for the wedding so we have to wait 21 days I was just wondering do you know what paperwork I will need to take with me to allow this for it to happen thankyou for any advice you can give me

  19. Hi please i am Abena. My boyfriend is already married by ordinace but again wants to marry me. His parents have approve of but my point is how do i make mine valid too. Pls help on what i can do . Thanks

    1. Abena, you can’t have a valid marriage with your boyfriend when he’s not divorced. He must be divorced first before you could contact a valid marriage with him.

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