Legal Eagle : Getting married in 24 hours

March 06, 2017

"Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of life can contain your hearts. And still together but not near together: For the pillars of temple stand apart, And the oath tree and cypress grow not in each other's shadow".

The above lines came directly from the famous Lebanese author and poet Khalil Gibran. These lines are timely reminders to the many couples, young and old, who are thinking about their wedding in June or any wedding in the near future.

Maybe the first step in marriage is to reflect on the definition of marriage. The classic legal definition is found in the case of Hyde v Hyde, where Lord Penzance defined marriage as a "voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others". Persons thinking of marriage should give this definition very serious consideration.




Once there is clear understanding of the definition of marriage and the parties' willingness to adhere to the true meaning of marriage, the parties can now proceed to secure a minister's (marriage) licence.

This licence is issued by the minister of justice to give authority to a marriage officer to marry a couple in Jamaica pursuant to Section 21 of the Marriage Act.

The applicant is required to have a declaration form filled out by a declarant who has knowledge of the impending marriage. The declarant, who can be a friend or a family member, must sign the form in the presence of a justice of the peace. If either of the party resides abroad, 24 hours residence in Jamaica is required, after which a Jamaican address can be used.

You next step is to collect a blank minister's (marriage) licence form from the Ministry of Justice and thereafter fill out the form, present it to the Stamp Office and pay the required stamp duty. The minister's (marriage) Llcence form will be endorsed with a stamp at the Stamp Office and handed back to you for you to return to the Ministry of Justice along with the following supporting documents, namely: a passport or driver's licence; copy of a birth certificate; decree absolute - if applicable; death certificate - if applicable and certified documents supporting any change of name. If you are under 18 years of age, you have to provide a letter of consent from your parents or legal guardian.

For those who walk in to the ministry, the documents are usually processed within a workday. This includes the time spent at the Stamp Office. Persons living abroad are required to be in the island for at least 24 hours before making the application.

After the marriage ceremony, you will receive a certified copy of the marriage register, which is also called the 'Bridal Copy' from the marriage officer. The marriage officer will thereafter submit the relevant documents to the Registrar General's Department and, thereafter, you may apply for a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

Some may say that what makes a happy marriage is 'just luck'. Finding the right spouse is important, but you will never know until you take the sacred vow and say, "I do". Such is life.

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