In Nigeria, many refer to it as “court marriage,” but technically, there’s no such thing. What we have are “Registry marriages” or “Marriages under the Act.” This misunderstanding has led to confusion for couples, especially those abroad or those dealing with divorce,leadership reports.

Today, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Registry marriages to provide clarity for those seeking information.

Until something is clearly defined, it’s often misinterpreted. So, what exactly is a Registry Marriage, or as it’s colloquially known, a “court marriage”?

Registry marriage is a legally recognized marriage contract sanctioned by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Marriage Act, Chapter 218 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990. There are two Federal Registries in the country, which we’ll discuss shortly.

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It’s important to note that the proper venue for marriage ceremonies is a Registry or a Licensed Place of Worship. Courts do not conduct marriages; their jurisdiction lies in settlement issues and legal remedies related to marriages.

In Nigeria, there are two types of marriages recognized by the constitution: Statutory Marriage and Customary Marriage (including Islamic Marriage).

Statutory Marriage, which is backed by the Marriage Act, supersedes Customary Marriage. It legally binds one man to one woman and is the preferred option if polygamy is not desired or culturally accepted.

Conducting a Statutory Marriage follows a uniform procedure whether at a Registry or a licensed place of worship, such as a church.

The Registry conducts Statutory Marriages overseen by a Registrar, while licensed places of worship may conduct marriages under a Minister. It’s important to ensure the place of worship is licensed to confer legal status on the marriage.

In summary, marriages conducted in licensed places of worship, such as Anglican, Catholic, or Methodist churches, are legally recognized under the Marriage Act. Therefore, a separate Registry marriage is not necessary unless desired.

Regardless of location in Nigeria, all local government areas have Registries and Registrars available to conduct and celebrate marriages, ensuring a consistent process nationwide.


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