Be married before you do your wedding – Part 2

Most of what we call “white wedding” has no legal significance, whatsoever, in this country. It is a mere ceremony.

There are only 2 types of marriage known to law in this country (Nigeria). These are:

1). Customary marriage

2). Registry marriage or court marriage.

Read Also: Be married before you do your wedding – Part 1.

There is no third type of marriage known to law. There is no other type of marriage apart from the two mentioned above.

Therefore, if you consider yourself married, you may wish to pause and ask yourself right now: what type of marriage am I into? Is it Customary or statutory or both?

Take note, though, that wedding in church does not necessarily make your marriage a registry marriage. Take note also that marrying in church does not necessarily make your marriage a monogamous marriage that can be legally enforced.

That said, it is pertinent to note that of the two types of marriage known to law, none is superior to the other.

Meaning that Customary marriage, just like registry marriage, is completely legal. You do not have to do anything else to further make it “more legal”.

I say this because often times, you hear people who are married under native law and custom saying that the want to make their marriage legal. By this, they mean that they wish to contract “court marriage”.

Let us now consider the differences between Customary marriage and “court marriage” (registry marriage):

(1) The main difference Is that while Customary marriage is potentially polygamous , registry marriage is strictly monogamous.

I said “potentially polygamous” because one can be married under native law and custom, but maintains only one wife all his life. There is no law or rule of custom that compels him to marry more than one wife.

However, should he choose to marry more wives, no one can stop him. The law of this country permits him to marry as many wives as he wants. It is in this sense that it is said that Customary marriage is potentially polygamous.

Registry marriage (“court marriage”) on the other hand, compels monogamy. That is, parties to this type of marriage cannot marry anyone else for life, unless they go to court to dissolve the marriage.

Even if the wife or husband moves out for years, neither party can re-marry if the registry marriage is not dissolved by a high court.

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Any marriage to another person during the pendency of a registry marriage (or should I say attempted re-remarriage), is a criminal offense called bigamy.

The point here is that as long as your spouse of registry marriage is alive, you cannot marry someone else, unless and until the marriage is dissolved by the high court of a state.

By Aniefiok Udoabasi.