Marriages must be performed in line with Act
-Gajraj tells newly appointed marriage officers

Stabroek News
December 17, 2002

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Marriages must be performed in accordance with the Marriage Act, Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj has asserted.

The Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with the General Register Office recently hosted a seminar for newly-appointed marriage officers at the Police Sports Club, Georgetown, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

It stated that the seminar was organised in light of the problems encountered by marriage officers and aims at keeping them abreast of the legal aspects involved so they could effectively carry out their functions.

Several complaints have been forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the way officers have been carrying out their functions, GINA said.

Gajraj noted that there are legal considerations which the officers need to be familiar with, so as to ensure that the requirements are met before performing any legal marriages.

If these requirements are not met then there could be many problems for persons involved in marriage, since they may be under the impression that they are married when in fact they are not, GINA reported.

In addition, Gajraj told marriage officers to be alert and ensure that they understand who can legally marry.

When marriages are not performed in conformity with the requirements of the Marriage Act then persons living together under the impression that they are married, stand to lose if one spouse dies since the other spouse would not receive any benefits.

Marriage officers who are appointed in a particular religion are not permitted to perform marriages in any other religion. They can however marry persons of different denominations within the same religion. If persons are married by an officer who is appointed in another religion then the marriage will not be legal, GINA said.

Noting that some officers have been ignorant of that fact, since they might not have examined the corresponding legislation, Gajraj urged officers to be "reasonable" and refrain from charging people exorbitant fees for their services.

Participants were also urged to ensure that people's names are spelt correctly to avoid additional problems.

GINA reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs provided copies of the Marriage Act to participants at the seminar.

And in a precautionary move, the Ministry of Home Affairs has changed the format of birth certificates and marriage licences, since people have been known to forge these documents, GINA stated.

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