20 January 2017

There Are Three Legal Routes To Marriage Under The Laws Of Ghana – Here Are What They Are And What They Entail


The institution of marriage has gradually been moving away from the simple, traditional affairs that we used to have to the extravagant, money sucking holes we now call the ‘white wedding.’

These cumbersome ceremonies have become the order of the day, and somehow pushed the other options towards marriage into the background, or at best an introduction before the big ‘Christian’ ceremony.

However, the options still exist in terms of variety in legally getting married. Since marriage is a cultural event, the law looks at the issue through that prism – therefore the three forms of marriage avenues under our law constitute the customary, the Islamic, and the ordinance (which is civil marriage).


Each has its criteria that has to be met before they become official, and each has different rules on polygamy and other pressing matters.

Below, we break down each of these three…first up is customary

Customary marriage


The customary marriage is our very own traditional ceremonies, which are actually legal and binding once certain criteria have been met.

Customary marriage is recognised under the Customary Marriage and Divorce Registration Law, 1985 (PNDCL 112). It varies from ethnic group to ethnic group in the country, each group with their requirements, practices and customs, although certain practices, such as the payment of bride price or the ‘knocking’, run through.

The customary marriage can be polygamous (more specifically polyandrous), meaning one man can register as many customary marriages as he can, and it would be legal. The woman, however, can only be married to one husband.

It is important to note that a couple can just perform the customary rites and they would be married, legally, under the laws of Ghana – too many people believe they must do a white wedding or they aren’t properly married.

Islamic marriage


The Islamic marriage is another legal route to marriage recognised under the laws of Ghana. Muslims constitute a significant minority of Ghanaians and therefore their marriage practices are also recognised under the law.

An Islamic marriage must be registered under the Marriages Act to be binding. According to the Marriage of Mohammedans (Amendment) Ordinance, 1935 (No. 30 of 1935), the process involves notifying the Registrar of Mohammedan marriages and divorces a week before the marriage is held.

An Islamic marriage is also legally allowed to be polyandrous – a man can marry multiple wives – although most Muslims do not go higher than four or five.

Marriage under the Ordinance


Marriage under the ordinance is the civil union available to any Ghanaian to take advantage of, and despite some confusion, it is entirely secular and not religious (Christian) at all.

This is governed by Marriages Act (Cap 127) and is the only, strictly monogamous legal means of marriage in Ghana. Those intending to get married are required to give notice to the marriage registrar in the district where the marriage is going to occur. The registrar would then publish a notice of marriage and then issue a certificate after 21 days if no objection is raised.

The marriage certificate must then be presented to a licensed marriage officer, after which the couple must get married within three months or that certificate becomes null and void.

Christian marriages generally occur under the ordinance, which is what they sign at a point or another during the ceremony. Marrying another person whilst in a marriage under the ordinance constitutes the crime of bigamy.

source: http://www.ghanacelebrities.com/

Please follow and like us:


Write a comment

9+9 = ?