The requirements for ordinance marriage in Ghana are quite simple. It is an inexpensive or a very affordable way to marry. First, this form of marriage is made between a man and a woman only. The partners must be 18 years or older and none of the two entering into a marriage by ordinance shall be in any form of marriage with any other person(s). But, there is an exception where the two partners are already married to each other in a customary marriage.
This marriage process is one of the institutions we inherited from British colonial administration and still hold on to. It has two main stages, and they are:
- Filing a Notice of Marriage and Issue of Registrar’s Certificate,
- The Marriage Ceremony.
Some fees are charged at each of the stages.
Filing a Notice of Marriage
Each partner shall provide certain personal information to the registrar of marriages. They are:
- House number (residential address)
- Father’s name
- Father’s profession/Occupation
- Condition (Status of registrants: Single, Divorced, or in Customary Marriage)
- Phone number:
The Registrar’s Certificate
A registrar’s certificate to marry is issued to the partners after 21 days of filing the a notice of marriage and nobody raises any valid objection against the proposed marriage. After they have received the registrar’s certificate, the couple must go through the marriage ceremony within three months, otherwise the certificate becomes void.
The Ordinance Marriage Ceremony & Certificate of Marriage
In a quick ceremony at the marriage registry, a registered officer officiates, leads the partners make solemn declarations and exchange rings and sign the marriage register. After all that a certificate of marriage is presented to the couple and pronounced and husband wife.
Alternatively, the partners may present the registrar’s certificate to a registered chaplain to officiate the marriage ceremony at a registered place of marriage.
Finally, the couple must consummate the marriage. That is, they must make the marriage complete by having sexual intercourse.
Women’s property and use rights in personal laws (Ghana)The Head of Family Accountability Act, 1985 (PNDC Law 114):
– Section 1 (1): Safeguards family property by obliging the head of family, who is in custody of such property, to account for all financial dealings associated with it. Any member of the family who has a beneficial right to such property may file a claim in the High Court against a head of family who mismanages the property. However, claimants are required to first try to seek redress at the family level.
– Section 3: The High Court has the power to compel the head of family to render account or file an inventory in respect of all properties in his possession, control or custody (14).
The law governs three types of marriage:
– customary marriages
– marriages under the Marriage Ordinance of 1844
– marriage under the Mohammedan Ordinance of 1907
The Marriage Ordinance, 1884:
– States that marriage shall be monogamous and prohibits men from marrying again unless they legally divorce.
– The Ordinance makes no allowance for a second marriage under customary or Sharia law. Similarly, men who have a first wife by customary law cannot contract a subsequent marriage under the Marriage Ordinance (16).
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1971, (Act 367):
– Created the legal framework for marriages, both monogamous and polygamous, and provided for matrimonial cases and other related matters (15).
– Sections 1 and 2: A petition for divorce may be presented to the court on the sole ground that the marriage has broken down beyond reconciliation.
– The court may grant maintenance in addition to matrimonial relief.
– Courts adjudicating Muslim divorces are directed to apply the terms of Act in matters of maintenance and custody (18).
The Customary Marriage and Divorce (Registration) Law, 1985, amended by the Customary Marriage and Divorce (Registration) (Amendment) Law, 1991:
– The 1991 amendment made the registration of marriages performed according to customary law optional, rather than mandatory, as it was prior to the amendment. The parties to such a marriage may register it at any time after it has been celebrated unless the Secretary for Justice subsequently sets a time limit.
– The Act also makes optional the notification of the Registrar of the dissolution of marriages performed according to customary law that have been registered under the Act.
– Provides that a court shall apply customary intestate succession law to a marriage recorded under the Act if it is satisfied that the marriage was validly contracted under customary law (17).
The Marriage of Mohammedans Ordinance, 1907:
– Applies to marriages under Islam, which may be polygamous (9).
– Specifies that marriage is solemnised in presence of the bridegroom, the bride’s wali, and two witnesses.
– Provides for registration of marriage and divorce among Muslims within one week (18).
The Children’s Act, 1998:
– Restricts early marriage and sets the minimum age for marriage at 18 years.
– Grants parental authority to both parents, who share responsibility for child care (16).