Being a kid under the legal marriage age does not, according to a judge of the High Court Divorce and Matrimonial Causes 3, make a marriage null and void or unlawful.
According to Her Ladyship Justice Hafisata Amaleboba, having children in a recognized marriage does not make it invalid or unlawful.
The decision’s implications have apparently alarmed Childs Right International officials, who are fighting child marriage in Ghana.
In a ruling in the Asamoah Gyan and Gifty Gyan Divorce case, where the former sought the annulment of his marriage to the latter, citing the latter’s prior marriage to one Eugene Odame Antwi, the esteemed High Court judge presented the legal reasoning.
However, Gifty Gyan informed the court in response to the annulment complaint that the marriage she had in 2002 with the Eugene Odame that Asamoah Gyan had mentioned was a “marriage of convenience” for European documents.
She also disclosed that, according to the information the court considered, she was 17 years old when they were married in 2002.
In a judgment on the matter, Justice Hafisata Ameloboba “established on a balance of probabilities that the Respondent was a child aged seventeen (17) years at the date of her marriage to Eugene Odame Antwi”.
The court also found that “she (Gifty) had no legal capacity and could not give her consent to marry” Eugene Odame Antwi.
Nonetheless, the court ruled that the Respondent’s marriage to Eugene Odame could not be deemed null and invalid simply because she was underage at the time of the union.
Child Right officials have stated that they are consulting with legal counsel on potential courses of action to pursue should the case’s ramifications impact other youngsters who are being persuaded to marry before reaching legal age.
In Ghana legal marriage age is 21 years.