Understanding the Law
August 19, 2011
Marriage contract

The laws provide for matters pertaining to marriage. Females must be fifteen and over and males sixteen and over to enter a valid marriage contract.

Both males and females under the age of eighteen years must have the consent of their parents or legal guardian in order to obtain a marriage license.{{more}} The Registry provides a consent form to this effect. No consent is required at the age of eighteen as this is the age of majority in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

For persons who have been married previously, a valid decree absolute must be presented to the registering clerk with the application. Items such as birth certificate or passport must be provided to support the application.

A marriage license is issued in response to a successful application. There are two types of marriage license available. These are the Registrar Certificate and the Governor General’s license. The Registrar’s Certificate is issued at the High Court Office. Before it is issued, a notice is posted on the notice board at the Court House for seven working days. Stamp duty of fifteen dollars is required for this license.

The application for the Governor General’s license is obtained at the High Court Office but the license is issued at the Ministry of Legal Affairs. It requires the signature of the Registrar and a notary public and it is issued at a cost of five hundred dollars.

A marriage license is valid for three months. If the marriage is not solemnized within that time, a new license must be obtained. A legal marriage cannot be contracted without a valid license.

A license must be submitted to a licensed marriage officer before the marriage takes place. Only licensed marriage officers (representatives of religious denominations), the Registrar of the High Court and the Deputy Registrar (professional) could perform marriage ceremonies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The declarations of the parties are made in the presence of two witnesses who must be eighteen years and over.

A marriage officer who performs a marriage must subsequently submit the duplicate form to the High Court Office so that the marriage could be registered. A marriage certificate is then issued on request at the cost of fifteen dollars. The marriage cannot be registered if the duplicate copy is not returned to the General Register Office. If the copy is not returned, or is lost or destroyed, the parties concerned would have to apply for registration at a later date, and this will result in some costs to the applicant.

Condolences to the family of Dr. Junior Bacchus

I heard with shock of the death of my longtime neighbour, doctor and friend, Dr. Junior Bacchus. I came to know him through his lovely wife Deborah Bacchus, fondly known as Debbie, who taught with me at the Saint Vincent Grammar School. The friendship grew and cemented over the years, and a nicer couple I could not find. Dr. Bacchus was friendly, lively and generous. He was the live wire of every social gathering where I was present. He loved to make people happy, and whenever he approached a small group you knew there would be a joke to cheer everyone. Although he was a medical doctor, he had a talent for history. He had a powerful memory and would recall information that many had forgotten. He will be greatly missed by those who knew this wonderful person. My sympathy is extended to my friend Debbie and their two children.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]