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While women spend a lot of time and energy planning the perfect wedding, they ignore an important detail that is aimed at their own protection. They forget about the paperwork formalising the union— the marriage certificate. An essential document establishing the marital status of a couple, it was made mandatory by the Supreme Court, in 2006, for every couple, irrespective of religion.

The idea behind the compulsory registration of marriage is to ensure that women are not left high and dry if they are deserted by their husbands. The certificate means the man cannot deny being married and avoiding alimony and maintenance. The procedure for registration is simple. Depending on your religion, you can either register under the Hindu Marriage Act or the Special Marriage Act, which differ in some respects. One, the Hindu Marriage Act sets a minimum age limit of 21 years for the groom and 18 years for the bride, while the latter places a minimum age limit of 21 years for both the partners. Two, the Hindu Marriage Act only allows you to register your marriage, not solemnise it. On the other hand, the Special Marriage Act serves both purposes. Let's consider the steps you need to take under the two Acts.

Hindu Marriage Act

To register under this Act, both the partners need to be Hindus. The first step is to apply to the sub-registrar under whose jurisdiction the marriage took place. Alternatively, you can apply to the registrar of the place where either spouse stayed for at least six months before marriage. Both partners need to fill the relevant application form, sign it, and submit it, along with photocopies of the necessary documents , such as age proof and address proof (see box). For proof of marriage, submit a certificate from the priest who solemnised the marriage. Keep in mind that both parties will need to disclose their previous marital status, if any. All the documents should be attested by a gazetted officer. Lastly, you will have to deposit a fee with the cashier and attach the receipt with the form.

Once the application has been submitted and the documents verified , the concerned officer will assign a date for registration, when the marriage certificate will be issued . The people who have converted to Hinduism also come under the purview of the Act, but will have to provide a certificate of conversion from the priest who solemnised the marriage, along with relevant documents.

Special Marriage Act

This Act covers both marriage solemnising and registration, and requires the same documents as prescribed under the Hindu Marriage Act. However, the procedure is complex. To begin with, both the parties have to give a 30-day notice to the sub-registrar in whose jurisdiction at least one spouse has resided . If you are marrying under this Act, you won't need to submit a wedding card and the priest's certificate, and the registration will take place after the wedding. If you are married, include the wedding card, if possible. The fee is again 100-200 .

One copy of the notice is put up on the sub-registrar's office board, and another is sent by registered post to both the partners. If either spouse is residing in another subregistrar's area, a copy has to be sent to him for similar publication. If there is no objection, say, from divorced spouses, the marriage is registered one month from the date of publication of the notice. In case of objection, the marriage officer conducts an enquiry and the marriage is registered after the enquiry concludes.

Document checklist

 Application form signed by husband and wife.

 Evidence of date of birth.

 Proof of residence.

 Affidavit by both the parties, stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage , and nationalities.

 Passport-sized photographs of both and one marriage photograph.

 Marriage invitation card, if available.

 Certificate from the priest who solemnised the marriage.

 Certificate of conversion if either party is a convert, from the priest who solemnised the marriage.

 Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the prohibited degree of relationship.

 Attested copy of the divorce decree, if applicable, and death certificate of spouse if a partner is a widow or a widower.

From India, Pune
Thankyou for sharing the details. Would you please share more on Pre-Nuptial that a couple must sign before getting married. My question is for the double income couples, who may or may not have any savings or assets before getting married.
What should both the bride and and the groom keep in mind in terms of finances and other rights?
If you could share few pointers and cases, it would be of immense help.

From India, Mumbai
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