New marriage registration rules could affect newlyweds

Posted by Rachel Giles, 19th August 2019
Under new rules set to be introduced later this year, newlywed couples will need to ensure that their marriage is registered after their legal ceremony.

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 provides for various updates to the formalities surrounding marriage registration. At present, a marriage is registered at the time of the legal ceremony, and couples receive their marriage certificate on the same day. The responsibility of this is with the officiating person. This is set to change, on a date yet to be announced, but expected to be this year.

At the time of the ceremony, couples will be handed a marriage schedule or marriage document, which they will be required to take to the office of a superintendent registrar within a set timescale. The marriage certificate will then be provided to them, after entry into an electronic register. It is not clear that the timescale has been set, but the Church of England believes this to be within a week. This would present problems for those couples intending to travel directly after their wedding.

It is expected that the couple will be able to ask a third party to present their marriage schedule on their behalf. This involves a significant degree of trust; should the marriage schedule not be presented in the relevant timescale, the couple will be deemed to have committed a criminal offence, and may face fines of up to £1,000.

Whilst this will likely not be an issue for those couples in the early stages of wedding planning, who can take the new regulation into account in due course, for those who have planned a wedding in the latter stages of 2019 or in 2020, with a honeymoon booked directly after the wedding, this may be problematic. It is certainly set to be an additional consideration for all couples looking to get married in the future.

It is also worth noting the other provisions within the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019. It gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations about the information that can be recorded on the marriage certificate, including, amongst other things, the names and professions of the couples’ mothers.

Further, it provides for the extension of civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. Again, it is not clear when this will be available, but it is hoped that it may be by the end of 2019.

Whilst none of the above provisions are yet in place, it is expected that the changes will be made relatively swiftly, and this is likely to be of interest to many within England and Wales.

Contact our Family Law team to discuss this matter further and for expert advice.

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