Getting married in Jersey

The Marriage and Civil Status (Jersey) Law as amended in 2018 makes the following provisions:

Open-air marriages

Locations will be approved for marriages including open-air, non-permanent or permanent locations or combinations thereof. This can be the whole or part of a location.

This means beaches, headlands, marquees, gazebos, grounded aeroplanes, moored boats and a couple’s home or garden may be approved as locations for weddings.

When considering marriage locations, they must be accessible by the public for the duration of the marriage ceremony.

 

Same-sex marriages

It is lawful for same-sex couples to marry in Jersey.

Same-sex couples, who are currently in a civil partnership, may convert their civil partnership to a marriage, either through another wedding ceremony or through a simple conversion process without a ceremony.

Civil partnerships also currently continue to be available to same-sex couples only.

Same-sex couples may not marry in Jersey’s parish churches at present. They may also not get married in any of the other Anglican churches on the island. Other religious organisations and religious officials are also exempted by law from marrying a same-sex couple if they and/or their organisation opt-out of doing so.

Same-sex couples seeking to marry in a religious ceremony would need to apply to their religious organisation of choice to see whether that organisation and their religious official of choice had opted-in and was able to marry them under the law. Some religious organisations may not be able to marry same-sex couples, but individual officials within the organisation may be permitted by their organisation to offer a blessing for a marriage. If this is important to you, it is worth enquiring.

 

Transgender marriages (called acquired gender marriages in the law)

It is lawful for couples where one or both parties are transgender to marry in Jersey.

There is no requirement for a transgender person to show their birth certificate when applying to marry, so you may marry on your identity documents.

Marriage certificates will be annotated as the couple wishes, so you may elect to have the designator “husband” or “wife” in line with your recognised gender.

In Jersey law, there is no ‘spousal veto’ (the provision in law in England and Wales that requires the permission of the spouse of a transgender person within a marriage before the transgender partner may change their gender legally).

Couples where it is known or suspected that one or both parties are transgender may not marry in Jersey’s parish churches at present. They may also not get married in any of the other Anglican churches on the island. Other religious organisations and religious officials are also exempted by law from marrying a couple where it is known or suspected that one or both parties are transgender if they and/or their organisation opt-out of doing so.

Couples where one or both parties are transgender seeking to marry in a religious ceremony would need to apply to their religious organisation of choice to see whether that organisation and their religious official of choice had opted-in and was able to marry them under the law. Some religious organisations may not be able to undertake such a marriage ceremony, but individual officials within the organisation may be permitted by their organisation to offer a blessing for a marriage. If this is important to you, it is worth enquiring.

Note: Currently, transgender people wishing to marry, whether or not they have a gender recognition certificate, are in the same position as same sex couples with regards to religious organisations. Further amendments to the law are being considered to rectify this position with regard to legal gender recognition.

 

Wedding goods and services

Suppliers of goods and services for weddings may not discriminiate against same-sex couples, or couples where one or both parties are transgender, in the provision of those goods and services.

The ability for recognised religious organisations to discriminate in the provision of locations (e.g. the hiring out of a church hall for a reception) for a marriage to same-sex couples, or couples where one or both parties are known or thought to be transgender has yet to be clarified and has been postponed. If this were to happen, they would not, however, be able to discriminate in the provision of a location (that was not a place of worship) for a civil partnership.

 

Procedural changes

The law has been amended to streamline the registration process and to provide better safeguards against forced and sham marriages.

The process for a couple wishing to marry is as follows:

  • A couple apply to give notice (online, or in person, or via a representative) of their intention to marry. Both parties to the marriage must give notice;
  • If non-Jersey resident, the couple must provide a certificate of freedom to marry from their home jurisdiction;
  • Both parties to the marriage must make a freedom to marry declaration;
  • The couple must go to the Superintendent Registrar’s office to sign the forms. Both parties complete a signature verification form and provide photographic proof of identity;
  • The Superintendent Registrar issues paperwork to the marriage celebrant;
  • The marriage celebrant uses the signature verification forms to confirm the identity of the couple and the marriage takes place;
  • The marriage celebrant takes the paperwork to the Superintendent Registrar, who updates copy register and send paperwork to the Parish Registrar;
  • The Superintendent Registrar issues the couple with certified copies of their marriage certificate;
  • The Parish Registrar updates the Parish Register.

 

Who can solemnise a marriage in Jersey?

Anyone may apply to become an authorised civil celebrant unless they are already an authorised religious celebrant. Civil celebrants are trained and authorised by the Superintendent Registrar. Civil celebrants will not be authorised for “one-off” ceremonies where a couple wish a particular friend/relative to solemnise their marriage.

The Superintendent Registrar, Deputy Superintendent Registrars and authorised civil celebrants must solemnise all marriages and conversions of civil partnerships. They may not opt-out of soleminising a same-sex marriage, for example.

Authorised religious officials (non-Anglican) can only solemnise same-sex marriages and marriages where one or both parties are transgender if they and their religious organisation agree to opt-in to doing so.

Anglican (which includes the parish churches) religious officials can only solemnise Anglican marriages, which because of church law excludes same-sex marriages and marriages where one or both parties are transgender.

 

The following issues are not addressed by the 2018 amendment:

  • enhanced provisions for same-sex parents (these will be addressed in the work being done on the Children (Jersey) Law in the wake of the Independent Jersey Care Enquiry’s findings and family-friendly legislation);
  • reform of Jersey’s divorce legislation (work has started on this already);
  • changes to civil partnership legislation to ensure it mirrors the Marriage and Civil Status (Jersey) Law.

 

More information about getting married in Jersey can be found here on the States of Jersey website. Alternatively, the Superintendent Registrar can be contacted on +44 1534 441335 or marriageenquiries@gov.je

%d bloggers like this: