If your marriage, no matter how well-attended it may be, wasn’t held at a registered church gazetted by law, you are not properly married, according to private legal practitioner, Oladele Aribike.
Likewise, if the pastor or the officiating minister who superintended over your ordinance marriage isn’t also gazetted by the state, your marriage is invalid.
According to Mr. Oladele Aribike who was providing legal perspective on Adom TV’s legal education show, me wo case anaa, a church or venue for marriage should be licensed under a District Assembly or for that matter, a local government authority.
Mr. Aribike also added that a pastor or an officiating minister for a marriage should be gazetted by the state before they could qualify to officiate any ordinance marriage lest, such marriages will be null and void.
“If any church or officiating ministers fail to register their churches or themselves, every marriage they officiate would be null and void from the start”, he stressed.
Providing further clarification on the matter, Mr. Aribike said the only process by which a church and an officiating pastor could qualify to officiate a marriage under ordinance was by applying to the Ministry of Justice, through the Registrar General Department.
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In a response to host of the show, Afia Pokua, on the difference between “blessings” and ordinance marriage, a member of the panel, lawyer Kwabena Buabeng Mensah, said it was important for people who are married under customary law not to confuse “blessings” with ordinance marriage.
According to him, a “blessing” is not regarded as a wedding or marriage under the ordinance, adding that a couple could have a valid marriage when after a customary marriage, they decide to register such marriage in the court, an act he described as the ‘’conversion of marriage’’.
The panel was discussing a case in which a lady said her husband had been cheating on her and has subsequently impregnated his mistress with whom he now stays, thereby abandoning his duties at home as a husband and a father.
Reacting to the lady’s case, Lawyer Buabeng explained that the law frowned on bigamy, adding that it was illegal for a man to marry another woman when he is already in a registered marriage.
He added, however, that a man can marry as many wives if he is married under customary law which hasn’t been registered, describing such marriages as “potentially polygamous”.
On whether a relative can stand in for a fellow relative who isn’t present during a marriage ceremony, Mr. Oladele said it was possible under customary marriage but not under ordinance law.
He added that one could be imprisoned for a term not more than three years when they engage in what he described as “marriage by proxy.