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Marriage Contracts

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 27 May 2022 | comments*Discuss
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Regardless of the reasons why couples enter into marriage it is usually taken very seriously and this is reflected by the legally binding marriage contracts. There are two basic traditional forms of marriage in Britain; religious and the civil ceremony, and both types will give the husband and wife certain rights.

Marriage Contracts

When people are married they will enter into a marriage contract that gives them certain rights. The marriage contract is a legally binding document that give the married couple certain rights that are not extended to people who are simply cohabiting. Married rights can include financially supporting each other and responsibilities regarding child support.

There are also legal rights involved regarding state benefits and pensions from the contributions of a spouse that are not extended to couples who are cohabiting. These rights are taken very seriously and can be enforced if the marriage breaks down.

Parental Responsibility

Another important right supplied by a marriage contract is parental responsibility. If a child was born while the parents were married then both parents have joint responsibility of the child. This is a right that unmarried fathers do not have.

Property Rights

Under the law of marriage contracts a spouse has the right to live in the matrimonial home even if they are not the actual signed tenant or pay the mortgage. This right is given under the Matrimonial Act of 1983 and is a right not extended to unmarried couples. There will also be rights under a marriage contract regarding property and the death of a spouse and rights regarding wills and estates.

Entering into a Marriage Contract

Anyone over the age of 16 who is not already married can enter into a marriage contract. But permission must be given from parents if the couple are under 18.

Legal Requirements

There are some legal requirements that must be met before a marriage will be seen as legal. Apart from the minimum age requirements these will include:

  • The marriage must either be a civil ceremony or a religious one.
  • The couple must not be related to each other.
  • Both partners must have consented to the marriage through their own free will.
  • Both partners must be of sound mind and fully able to understand the contract of marriage.
  • The location of the wedding should take place in a church, registry office or other authorised building.
  • Each partner must fulfil notified residency requirements.

Formal Notice of a Marriage

Regardless of whether the wedding is to be a civil ceremony or a religious marriage, public notice will be required. For religious ceremonies this will mean the reading of the banns, which is an announcement of the marriage in a church three weeks before the wedding. Both marriages will need to be registered in the district where the couple live, either by the registrar or by the priest or vicar who is conducting the wedding ceremony.

Required Documents

When the couple who are intending to marry visit the vicar or Registrar they will be required to bring some formal documentation. This will include documentation regarding the termination of any other marriages and either birth certificates or passports. If the couple to be married are under 18 then the consent forms from parents will also be needed.

Marriage contracts are taken seriously under the eyes of the law and religious organisations. In terms of breaking a marriage contract there will be legal requirements and a married couple will not be able to obtain a divorce until they have been married for at least one year. If either spouse is in any doubt regarding their marriage it is better for everyone involved to make these doubts known before the wedding ceremony rather than have to go through a complicated legal process afterwards.

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Fiza - 23-Jun-19 @ 5:10 PM
Does the law of marriage apply to a union of a British citizen and a non EEA citizen of man and wife?.If this is so does my wife have a right to live in the matrimonial home I live in UK or have any other right to live with me even if she is under immigration control.Do immigration laws circumvent marriage laws if married and registered in a UK parish?
Digger - 25-Oct-18 @ 3:46 AM
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Nat - 25-Oct-18 @ 12:09 AM
@Helen- you wouldn't be able to prosecute as half the population would be jumping on that bandwagon. Anyhow, despite the decisions he's made and the changes he has gone through since marriage he may have entered into the marriage willingly and not fraudulently. The fact you have had children must mean that somewhere along the way both he and you were compatible.
JoJo - 18-Sep-18 @ 10:11 AM
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Jack - 22-Jan-16 @ 8:39 AM
Hi, if there's a possibility tosecure my future husband in the UK about his property in case of divorce. Can I ssign documents to refuse claim any money or legal rights for his property? Thanks
Blondy - 21-Jan-16 @ 10:00 AM
Jordan - Your Question:
Please give me call, I want to discuss something very important

Our Response:
I'm afraid we do not conduct personal calls. You would have to ask your question via the comment box on the page.
ContractsAndAgreements - 4-Jan-16 @ 10:21 AM
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