Article from Hexham Courant

An increasing number of couples are choosing to marry abroad. A variety of reasons are given for this trend: it tends to be cheaper than marrying in the UK, good weather can be guaranteed and the honeymoon can start immediately. But is it legal?

Even if you’ve booked your overseas wedding through a travel company, it’s vital that you check out the legal requirements for the marriage as they vary from country to country. Foreign office advice recommends contacting the embassies of where you plan to marry to find out what documentation you will need.

You should check if you require visas or if there is a legal requirement that you spend a certain time in the chosen country before taking your vows. You may also need to take a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) or a Nulla Osta (in Italy), which is a document confirming that there is no reason that you cannot marry. You should ensure that all paperwork is in order, and have a lawyer check through it, at least 8 weeks prior to departure. I would always encourage couples to have their new marriage certificate translated into English on returning to the UK which is inexpensive and easily done.

It is paramount that a wedding conducted overseas is recognized in your own country of origin. Invalid marriages have far-reaching implications regarding the legitimacy of any children born, financial considerations should the marriage break down and your own personal immigration status, although It may be possible to petition to the courts for a declaration of status under the Family Law Act 1986 to rectify difficulties should they arise.

You may recall the case of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall who had “married” in a Hindu ceremony in Bali in 1991. Hall had originally sought a divorce but on finding that their marriage never was a marriage in UK law, sought a nullity decree. The marriage was declared “null and void” by a London High Court 8 years later.

Overseas weddings are particularly popular with couples marrying for a second time. Second marriages in themselves are more complicated than first as there may be children to consider as well as pre-owned assets. A pre-nuptial agreement can help couples determine which of their pre-owned assets will remain untouched in the event of divorce. It may not be a romantic idea but it a practical one.

If you are planning on getting married abroad, do make sure you plan ahead and take the right specialist legal advice.

Written by Joanne Major