All over the world, Marriage is a widely celebrated institution. Marriage is a contractual union between a man and a woman who decide to live together as husband and wife for the rest of their life. To understand the concept of marriage, one has to first appreciate the different types of marriages.
What are the types of Marriages recognised in Uganda?
Uganda specifically recognises five types of marriages namely;
Civil marriage under the Marriage Act and the Divorce Act
A civil marriage is a marriage which takes place at the office of the Registrar of Marriages. At the District level a civil marriage is conducted by the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
- These are similar to the requirements of a church marriage. The only difference is that the marriage is conducted by the Registrar; or if at the district, it is conducted by the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). In addition,
- The Registrar of Marriages or the District Registrar (CAO) must display a notice of the intended marriage for at least three weeks to allow any person who has a reason as to why the people should not get married to inform the Registrar or CAO before the marriage takes place.
- The marriage must take place in the District Registrar’s office; and must be conducted by the Registrar of Marriages or CAO.
- Similar to a church marriage, a civil marriage allows a person to be married to only one person,
- One of the people getting married must have lived in the district in which the marriage is intended to take place for at least 15 days.
- The people intending to marry must swear and affidavit of marriage.
- Note: Once you decide to marry under church or Civil, you cannot contract any other marriage during the substance of the said marriage.
Church marriages under the Marriage Act and the Divorce Act:
A church marriage must take place in a place which is licensed as a place of worship. Under the law governing a church marriage, a man can marry only one woman; and a woman can only marry one man. A person cannot marry another person when their church marriage is still on.
- Marriage is strictly monogamous (one wife one husband)
- They both must be at least 18 years old.
- Both parties must voluntarily agree to the said marriage. (Force invalidates marriage and they must be of sound mind).
- Not be related by blood for example sisters, brothers, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, adopted children, parents, cousins.
- Parental consent is desirable although not mandatory for people above 21 years. People below 21 years must get parental consent.
Hindu marriage under the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act:
Islamic marriage under Marriage and Divorce of the Mohammedans Act:
An Islamic marriage is a marriage which takes place according to the Islamic faith. A man can marry up to four wives as long as he treats them equally in all material needs and marriage responsibilities. A man can also choose to marry one woman.
- Not be a close blood relative, like a sister, brother, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, parent.
- The woman must not be in any other relationship or existing marriage,
- The man must give the woman he intends to marry “mahari” or dowry. Mahari is determined the woman. It is given to the bride, not her relatives.
- Although the Quran does not indicate the age of marriage, it provides that as long a woman undergoes puppetry, she can marry but this is contrary to the constitution and other written laws that provides 18 years and above.
- Both parties must be Muslims.
- Wait for at least three months to remarry, after death or divorce of a husband or wife.
- You marry in the mosque or the home of the bride.
- Register the marriage within one month of the marriage ceremony. The marriage can be registered at the mosque at the time of the marriage ceremony.
Customary marriage governed by the Customary Marriage (Registration) Act:
A customary marriage is one which is undertaken according to the traditions or customs of a particular community or tribe.
- Be 16 years and above; and must agree to get married (provision is inconsistence with the constitution and therefore null and void).
- Get married in accordance with the cultural rules and customs. People cannot be allowed to marry if their marriage is against their tradition, for example, marrying from the same clan.
- Should not be married in a civil or church marriage with another person and the marriage is still in existence.
- Pay bride price if required by the culture under which the marriage is to take place. Bride price is agreed upon by relatives of both parties to the marriage.
- Register the customary marriage at the sub-county within six months after the marriage with at least two witnesses in the sub-county where the marriage took place. They will then be given a customary marriage certificate. However, not registering the marriage does not does not undo the marriage provided all the necessary customary requirements were met.
Note: A man can marry more than one wife under a customary marriage. Once you marry more than one person you cannot go Civil or Church with any of them.
A customary marriage can be converted into a Christian marriage or a civil marriage by having a church or civil marriage ceremony. This marriage will no longer be governed by customary law; but will be governed by laws governing marriages in Church or the District Registrar.
The above laws provide the requirements for their respective marriages celebrated there under. As a result of being married, one is able to enjoy among other rights, property rights from the marriage. Issues of matrimonial property arise not only during the subsistence of a marriage but also upon its dissolution.
The 1995 constitution generally provides for the principle of equality of all persons. Every person is guaranteed the right to property under the constitution. The constitution also provides that men and women have a right to marry and found a family and are entitled to equal rights in a marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution and such rights include the property rights.
 Marriage Act Chapter 251 Laws of Uganda
 Divorce Act Chapter 249 Laws of Uganda
 Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act Chapter 250 Laws of Uganda
 Marriage and Divorce of the Mohammedans Act Chapter 252 Laws of Uganda
 Customary Marriage (Registration) Act Chapter 248 Laws of Uganda
 Article 20 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda
 Article 26, ibid
 Article 31(1), Ibid