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Can church refuse to give copy of marriage certificate?

(35 Posts)
CosmicMonkey Sat 29-Feb-20 22:48:07

Posting on behalf of DSis who is currently going through the process of getting a divorce.

The marriage took place in church less than a year ago and her STBXH has either taken the original marriage certificate or destroyed it. Either way she needs a copy for her solicitor.

The church has yet to file the certificate with the registrar so she approached the church for a copy but the lady at the church (not the vicar but someone who works there) said she would need her spouse’s consent to obtain a copy.

She is going to go back and speak to the vicar directly and explain why she needs it but she just wanted to know if anyone else had gone through something similar.

Can the vicar or church refuse to give my DSis a copy of her own certificate?

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Rainbowunicat Sat 29-Feb-20 22:52:34

I don't get this. If she's legally married, there will surely be a copy of her marriage certificate with the registry office. How can a church 'not file it'? I've no experience in this area so happy to be corrected, but it doesn't sound right.

Smurf123 Sat 29-Feb-20 22:54:08

The church have us the certificate but for the marriage to be legal we had to bring it to the registry office - church didn't do that part

DropYourSword Sat 29-Feb-20 22:55:54

If it’s not filed yet, does that mean they aren’t officially married?

Rainbowunicat Sat 29-Feb-20 22:57:53

Just googled- I stand corrected! The church keeps the records. How strange.
@smurf123 what kind of church did you get married in? I got married in a Catholic church and I didn't have to take the certificate anywhere.

CosmicMonkey Sat 29-Feb-20 22:59:06

We have done a bit of google searches and apparently in UK (sorry should have mentioned that in opening post) the church submit quarterly reports to registrar to confirm the number of marriages and basic details but the certificate itself only goes to registrar when the whole book is full which can take a while!

Atleast this is my understanding from what I have read

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june2007 Sat 29-Feb-20 23:04:30

I would say spk to Vicar/minister in charge.

CosmicMonkey Sat 29-Feb-20 23:09:52

@june2007 - DSis is planning to but she just wants to be sure they can’t legally withhold it if they try to say she needs her spouse’s permission again as he is being difficult

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Lougle Sat 29-Feb-20 23:18:16

Is she just getting everything ready, because she can't divorce before 1 year of marriage.

CosmicMonkey Sat 29-Feb-20 23:20:24

Yes she just wants it all ready so it can happen quickly once their anniversary passes

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Smurf123 Sat 29-Feb-20 23:26:07

@Rainbowunicat Catholic Church.. We have to deliver it back to the registry office within 3 days of the marriage taking place. But I'm in NI so it seems we maybe do it differently to the rest of the UK.

We have to pick up the schedule personally no more than 14 days before the wedding, bring it to the church, sign it on the day and then return it no later than 3 days after the wedding although a family member can return it for you but the church don't do it.

ArnoldBee Sat 29-Feb-20 23:29:10

It is legal and correct not to be filed with the registrar yet. If you live in a parish where not many weddings happen you could be waiting 100 years! You don't need your spouses permission to have the certificate though they may charge their own admin fee.

drspouse Sat 29-Feb-20 23:29:55

We had this, got married in church but hardly anyone gets married in that church so the registrar (who did marry us but wasn't the usual minister) hadn't got round to sending the details in.
We worried we were not legally married too but they just sent it in when we asked, an oversight.
I think they have a legal obligation to send it in.

Lyricallie Sat 29-Feb-20 23:31:23

@Smurf123 same here in Scotland. I'm getting married in May and it has to go within 3 days to the council's offices.

Has your sister checked, can she remember who she asked to put it in to the registrar?

drspouse Sat 29-Feb-20 23:31:36

(Not CofE)

charley50 Sat 29-Feb-20 23:32:35

Wow! This is really odd. So you could be legally married but unable to prove it if your church was a bit crap at organising their records? Anyway OP I'm sure it is discriminatory to withhold your own marriage details without your spouses permission so I suggest your dsis speak to someone else at the church.

drspouse Sat 29-Feb-20 23:34:57

Yep! We were.
They did say "oops" when we asked. I think it was for a visa IIRC.

CosmicMonkey Sat 29-Feb-20 23:39:26

@Lyricallie - The wedding was in Somerset so England and I believe it is different to Scotland in that the church file it with the registrar once book is full.

@drspouse - I think DSis will ask if they can send it in under the circumstances if they will not issue a copy. We couldn’t find anything about a timeframe for sending the book in only the quarterly reports. The quarterly report won’t show as an actual certificate.

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BusterMove Sat 29-Feb-20 23:45:35

I was curious and did some googling. I thought you had to have a registrar present at all church weddings, and that it was automatically registered with the local offices, but seems I was wrong,
Hopefully the vicar will be more help.

PickAChew Sat 29-Feb-20 23:48:32

That is nonsense.

Had lost my marriage certificate from way back with my ex but needed a copy for id documents, recently. Contacted the current incumbent, paid a fee and got it

PickAChew Sat 29-Feb-20 23:52:31

Just to clarify, even certificates from years ago can still be with the marrying church. 25 years ago, in my case.

Sinkingfeeling Sat 29-Feb-20 23:55:23

I’m a registrar in England. If your sister’s marriage is recorded in a marriage register that is still held by the church (i.e. it is not yet full and therefore not deposited at the local register office) then the church will issue the marriage certificate. Anyone can apply for a copy providing they know basic details like the names of the couple and the approximate date of the marriage. The cost is £11 per certificate. Your sister needs noone’s permission to obtain a copy. She should just contact the church, who will be able to advise her if they still hold the marriage register or not, and explain how to make payment.

Ariela Sat 29-Feb-20 23:57:02

I'm sure if she phones the church clerk, and asks to buy an additional copy (she can just say she needs to send a copy off for financial reasons), they'll book an appointment and she can go in and pay for it when she collects the certificate. Remember doing this.

Sinkingfeeling Sat 29-Feb-20 23:58:52

bustermove a registrar’s presence is only required at church weddings for churches which do not hold their own marriage registers. A registrar never needs to attend a Church of England wedding.

CosmicMonkey Sat 29-Feb-20 23:59:51

Thanks all - I will let DSis know and will contact vicar next week

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