A court marriage is the legal union of a man and a woman who are free to wed regardless of their caste, religion, or creed in front of the court, a marriage officer, and three witnesses. In India, a court marriage can be solemnized without the need for a traditional celebration. The only condition is, it should satisfy the essentials of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. It is not necessary for Court Marriage that both parties be of Indian nationality. Court Marriage can be done by an Indian national with a foreign national. Persons of two different gender either belonging to the same or different religion can marry each other through Court Marriage.

Court Marriage is in accordance with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 which provides for:

*The Court Marriage age

*The prerequisite condition of Court Marriage

*Documents required for a Court Marriage

*Court Marriage fees and the entire Court Marriage process

Pre-requisites of a Court Marriage-

1. No pre-existing marriage: There should be no pre-existing marriage for either the male or female unless the previous spouse is not living or divorce has been obtained from the previous spouse.

2. Valid Consent: The parties must have given free consent for Court Marriage i.e., none of the parties intending to do Court Marriage should be incompetent of giving valid consent due to unsound mind or any other factor.

3. Age: The parties must be eligible to marry i.e., they should be of Court Marriage age. The Court Marriage age for a boy is 21 years and the Court Marriage age for a girl is 18 years.

4. Prohibited degrees of relationships: The parties to the marriage should not be related to each other under the prohibited degrees of marriage as provided in Schedule I of the Act. Unless it’s valid in the customs or traditions of the religion of any of the two parties.

Documents required for a Court Marriage-

*Marriage Application form duly signed by both bride and groom

*Receipt of fees paid along with the application form

*Date of birth proof of both bride and groom (Class 10th Certificate/Passport/Birth Certificate)

*Residential address proof (Aadhar Card/Voter Card/Ration Card/Driving Licence)

*Affidavit one each from both the bride and groom.

The affidavit about Court Marriage must contain the following Court Marriage information:

*Date of birth

*Marital status whether unmarried, divorced or widowed

*A statement affirming that the parties are not related to each other under the prohibited degree of relationships

*2 passport size photographs of both bride and groom

*Copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower.

Who can be a witness to the Court Marriage?

Witnesses to a court marriage can be anyone, including friends, coworkers, family, or relatives. In addition, three witnesses are required for a legal court marriage to be solemnized.

Witness documents needed for a court marriage. The following documentation from the witness is needed for a court marriage:

*Residential proof of the witness is the most important document which has to be furnished before the Marriage Officer.

*PAN Card of the witness must also be presented before the Marriage Officer.

*One passport size photograph each from the three witnesses to the marriage.

*An identification document of the witnesses such as Driving Licence, Aadhar Card, etc.

What is the procedure of Court Marriage in India?

Step 1: Notice of Intended Marriage

The first step of Court Marriage is acquiring notice of the intended marriage. The said notice has to be in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act. You have to send a written notice mandatorily to the marriage registrar showing the intention of the parties to marry each other. One needs to send the notice to the office of the marriage registrar, in whose district either of the party resides for a minimum of 30 days before sending the notice.

Step 2: Publishing of Notice

The notice sent to the office of the marriage registrar shall be published by the marriage officer by affixing it to a place in his office which is clearly visible while keeping the original copy of the notice in his notice book. If the notice of intention to marry is sent to the wrong office of marriage registrar then he shall forward the same to the officer in whose jurisdiction the parties reside so that the notice can be affixed at the right place.

Step 3: Objection to Marriage Section 7 of the Special Marriage Act states that any person who has an objection to the marriage so intended can raise the objection within 30 days from the date of publication of notice by the marriage registrar. If the marriage registrar finds that the objection raised is correct, then he/she will end the process for the intended Court Marriage. But if he/she finds that the objection is unjustified, then he/she will proceed with the Court Marriage registration procedure. However, if the marriage registrar sustains the objection, then the parties can file an appeal with the district court against the order of marriage officer/registrar for completing the process of Court Marriage in India.

Step 4: Declaration by Parties and Witnesses The next step as provided in the Court Marriage rules is the declaration by parties and witnesses. Before the Court Marriage is finalized, the Court Marriage form has to be signed by the parties along with three witnesses declaring that the parties are doing the marriage with free consent. The declaration Court Marriage form has to be signed in the presence of the marriage registrar.

Step 5: Place and Form of Solemnization Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act states that the solemnization of Court Marriage can take place at the office of the marriage registrar or any other place at a reasonable distance. You can also solemnize your procedure of marriage by filling up the form online. The Court Marriage application online includes the payment procedure of Court Marriage fees to complete it.

Step 6: Procedure for Marriage Certificate Once the solemnization of the marriage takes place according to the rules and regulations of Court Marriage, the marriage registrar enters the details of the marriage, in the marriage certificate in accordance with Schedule IV of the Special Marriage Act. The Court Marriage certificate is proof of a valid marriage statement signed by the parties and their witnesses and marriage certificate download can be done online also.

Fees involved in Court Marriage-

States vary in their court marriage fees. Fees for court marriage procedures typically range from Rs 500 to Rs 1000. However, it is always advisable to double-check the fees when completing the online application for a court marriage, as they might exceed the cap, given that each state sets its own laws and fees for the solemnization of court marriages.

Time taken for the entire Court Marriage procedure-

Usually, the entire process of solemnization of a Court Marriage requires 30 – 60 days. Post-publication of the notice of intention, a time period of 30 days is given, for any objection to being raised against the marriage, if any, by the Marriage Officer and if any objection is raised within that period, an inquiry period of 30 days is allotted for the Marriage Officer.

Note: If a marriage is not solemnized within 3 months from the date of the notice, then a fresh notice has to be given to the Marriage Officer for fresh conduct.

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