How do I stop my husband from getting married
Dear Mirror Lawyer, I have been married for the past seven years. We had a traditional marriage in my hometown in Wenchi.
My husband travels often because of the work he does. Some days ago, an old classmate informed me that my husband was preparing to get married to another woman in Accra.
She showed me pictures of the couple and the invitation to prove this. She has advised that we wait till the day and disrupt the wedding ceremony in the church and expose him. The wedding is three weeks away. What should I do?
Dear Efiba, Under the Marriages Act, 1884-1985 (Cap 127), anyone who seeks to enter into a marriage under the ordinance (which includes a Christian marriage) must not be married to another person under customary law. This is found in section 74(1)(b) of the Act.
A customary law marriage (what you refer to as a ‘traditional marriage’) is potentially polygamous. This means that the man may marry as many wives under customary law as he may be able to harmoniously live with and conveniently manage.
The law, however, prohibits a party to an intended marriage under the ordinance (i.e. under the authority of a marriage officer or a registrar’s certificate) from being married to a different person under customary law.
The law has provided redress for anyone who knows of a just reason why such a marriage should not take place. This is called a caveat. Section 56(1) (b) provides for the procedure for entering a caveat against the issue of a certificate when a marriage is going to be solemnised under the authority of a marriage officer’s certificate, which is usual for marriages solemnised in churches.
The provision in section 56(1) (b) instructs a person who knows of any reason why a marriage should not take place to send a notice in writing to the person publishing the banns of marriage to forbid the marriage. This notice must have the name and place of residence of the person entering the caveat, as well as his/her reasons for forbidding the marriage.
When the person publishing the banns of marriage receives the notice, he/she is to forward it to the marriage officer, who in turn will forward it to a High Court Judge. The judge in his discretion will assess the notice and if no legal grounds exist forbidding the marriage, he will remove the caveat. Otherwise, he will request all the parties involved to appear before him to hear and determine the matter.
In the case of In Re Pratt’s Caveat; Bentil v. Pratt [1989-90] 2 GLR 476-489, the respondent served an order for interim injunction on the would-be groom a few hours to the wedding, which resulted in the wedding being called off. The court held, among other things, that the right procedure for entering a caveat was not followed and awarded compensation in the man’s favour.
It is advisable in your case, Efiba, to send a notice to the particular church where the marriage is to be solemnised with the relevant details of your name, residence and reasons for forbidding the marriage, and follow up on same.