Civil Law & Canon Law
Civil Marriage & Church Marriage
- The Church Marriage is performed under section 5(1) and registered under section 30 of the Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872. However, the marriages solemnised in the church needs to be registered with the Special Marriage Registrar appointed by the government.
- There is therefore no need to have a separate “Court Marriage” for legal purposes. There is no need to re-register the marriages under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act of 1954.
- After the solemnisation of the marriage procure a marriage certificate from the church and follow the procedures of re-registration as notified by the government / the office of the Registrar.
- For the Christian Marriages solemnised in Delhi Mr. Kom (Joint Registrar, Christian Marriage Act) may be contacted in his office ( ITO, Sales Tax office , 4th floor, A.C.P. office. (Sometimes rooms change, please confirm room at reception).
- The documents required for registration of marriage under the Act:
- Complete application form requesting for registration;
- Passport Size photographs,
- The Marriage Certificate issued by the Minister or the Priest who performed the wedding,
- Two photographs of the wedding rituals along with the wedding invite;
- Residence and age proof of either party to the marriage;
- An affidavit certifying the mental and marital status of both parties
- A copy of the License for solemnising the marriage granted to the Minister or Priest
- The so called civil marriages that some couples enter into under the Special Marriage Act before the Church Marriages have led to some problems, when after the civil marriage one party either vanishes or refuses to go through the Church Marriage and holds the other party to ransom, as this other party is bound by a civilly legal marriage that is not recognised by the Church.
- A marriage under any other Marriage Act, can be Re-registered under the Special Marriage Act of 1954. – But this does not affect or reverse the Legal Conversion of any of the parties.
- Some Western Embassies now do not accept “Civil Marriage Certificates” only for visas or migration, owing to their own liberal divorce laws, some have used the civil marriage certificate as a means to migrate. They now insist on seeing the Church Marriage Certificate, photographs, video etc. of the wedding to make sure that there has been a genuine wedding between the parties concerned.
- As for the Church a valid marriage is indissoluble by its very nature. However, the civil dissolution of a bond is required after obtaining an annulment from the church for invalid marriages or for other reasons. Regarding obtaining a civil divorce is under the Indian Divorce Act of 1869 (amended in 2001 – and now known as “The Divorce Act” – all Church
Marriages come under this Act). All divorce and nullity petitions and other ancillary matters that may arise out of a Church Marriage are governed under this Act and have now to be filed in the Family Court.
Catholics can now go in for a Civil Divorce by mutual consent. They have to be physically separated for 2 years before they can apply to the Family Court for a civil divorce. After applying, there is a hearing in which the couple are referred to the court-counsellors. They are then given 6 months to make up their minds again. After this cooling off period of 6 to 18 months, they must re-appear before the Court (the counsellor) and restate their desire for a divorce. The case is then heard and the divorce is finally given. If the second appearance is not made, within 18 months of filing the petition, then the case lapses, as it is presumed the couple have made up, and are reunited. This is the Civil Law, as far as Mutual Consent is concerned.