When you marry in the UK you would expect to receive the same protection as someone who enters into a Christian or Jewish marriage, whatever your faith. You may be surprised to hear that this is not actually the case and that many couples who marry under different faiths are unaware that their marriage is not registered under the Marriage Act 1949 or the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
What this means is that these couples are not afforded the same rights as a registered married couple in the event of the marriage breaking down. They will be seen as the same as a cohabiting couple with substantially less rights and this can lead to devastating consequences.
This issue is especially prominent for Muslim weddings, for which a large proportion of couples believe that their Islamic Nikah ceremony is registered under UK law. This however is not the case and is leaving one of the parties unknowingly exposed should the marriage breakdown.
Parties can be left without the right to claim maintenance from their spouse or a share in a property which is only in one spouse’s name. In the most severe cases this had led to a party becoming homeless at the end of the relationship and, although these cases are rare, they highlight the impact that this issue can have.
If you are getting married then you should make sure that you have a ceremony to officially register your marriage so that it is recognised under UK law and to give you the necessary protection of your rights if your relationship unfortunately breakdown.
So what does the future hold? There is a move on the horizon in the form of the campaign group ‘Register Our Marriage’. They are lobbying for a change in the law so that all couples, no matter what their faith, are legally registered as a civil marriage following their wedding ceremony. We at Jordans Solicitors support the movement and hope that the consequences of an unregistered marriage will soon become a thing of the past.