The Marriage Registry of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly has over the past five years seen an increase in the number of ‘proxy’ marriages.
Proxy marriage, which is only allowed in the traditional marriage, is the practice where one of the partners could ask a relative to stand in for him or her during the ceremony and have same registered with the assembly.
This is normally the practice for Ghanaians resident abroad who want to marry from home. Statistics from the registry from 2013 to 2017 put the total figure of this type of registered marriage at 2,235 as against 2,117 ‘normal’ traditional marriages for the same period.
According to the Legal Officer of the KMA, Mr Patrick Adu Poku, ‘proxy’ marriage is allowed in traditional marriages but not in an ordinance one.
He explained that for an ordinance marriage to be valid, both partners would have to be present to give their consent. For the ordinance marriages, however, there has been a steady increase in the total number of marriages recorded over the same period.
The number is, however, higher than in the previous cases. For the same period, that is between 2013 and 2017, the assembly registered a total of 13, 770 marriages.
A cursory study of the statistics also indicates that the proxy traditional marriage has also recorded the highest number of divorces over the same period as compared to the ordinance marriages.
While the total number of dissolutions recorded for the ordinance for the same period is 61, that recorded for the ‘proxy’ traditional marriage is 977.
However, Mr Adu-Poku could not assign any reason for the high number of divorces recorded in the ‘proxy’ traditional marriages.
He explained that for the dissolutions of ordinance marriages to be valid, parties must go through the legal system to have them properly dissolved.
According to him, even when the parties dissolved the marriage at the family level but failed to do same at the court, “the marriage still remains valid and undissolved”.
According to him, “it is only a court that can dissolve an ordinance marriage, and until the couple get the marriage annulled or their divorce granted by the court, they will still be presumed to be married irrespective of the decision of the families.”