When we talk of marriages, it is always about the rings, the dresses, family, friends, and location. While these aspects of marriage make it memorable for the couple, we often forget the legal proceedings needed for the ceremony. Every country has its set of laws related to marriages. A couple should fulfill all the requirements if they want their marriage to be recognized legally. Therefore, the rules of marriage are something every individual must know and understand before stepping into a marriage.
Australia has multiple legal requirements for couples trying to get married. In this article, we provide the general information that everyone should be aware of. It is always better to seek professional legal advice in case of any specific requirements or information.
Who decides the marriage laws in Australia?
The Commonwealth Government of Australia holds the power to decide the laws of marriage in the country. The power has been vested in the federal government by Section 51 of the Australian Constitution. In 1961, the government passed the Marriage Act. The Act functions uniformly throughout the country, with the exception of certain external territories. The Mariage Regulations of 2017 also govern the marriages done in Australia.
Marriage Rules that Apply to All Citizens
- Under Australian marriage law, only monogamous unions are considered legal. It implies marriages between two people are allowed. The law prohibits individuals to have more than one spouse at a time.
- One is eligible to marry only when he/she is single or has divorced his previous partner.
- The legal age to marry in Australia is 18. However, under special circumstances, one can seek the court’s permission to marry at the ages of 16 or 17. The consent of at least one parent is also needed if an individual is below 18 years of age.
- The individual getting married should be fully aware of the meaning of marriage. Both bride and groom should agree to the marriage freely. Any sort of forcing for marriage is considered illegal by the law in Australia.
- During the ceremony, the person marrying should use certain words.
- The Australian marriage laws do not permit an individual to marry his/her brother, sister, parent, grandparent, or grandchild. It is illegal even to marry a half-sister or half-brother.
- The marriage will be counted as legal only when the ceremony is performed by a marriage celebrant authorized by the federal government.
- It is compulsory to notify the marriage celebrant in writing about the intent to marry. This needs to be done well in advance. Usually, 18 months to 1 month before the marriage is suitable. In case the marriage is to be done in less than a month, one can get special permission from concerned authorities.
- One need not be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of the nation for having a legal marriage.
These are the common marriage rules that all individuals are expected to abide by. There are many other legalities to complete before your marriage gets approval by the court. But the following the common rules is the first step towards the successful completion of the marriage.
Same-sex marriage in Australia
The LGBTQ community gets all the rights like any other citizen. The government believes in equality which led to legalizing same-sex marriages. Following the Marriage Amendment Act, the marriage of homosexual couples became legal on 9th December 2017. The states and territories in the country were already considering same-gender unions as legal since 2003. The federal government gave a de facto status to homosexual relationships from 2009 onwards. The states also provide various other means to give due recognition to relationships involving same-gender people.
Legal steps you need to follow to get married in Australia
The paperwork is important to have a legal marriage. Let’s look at the various steps one by one:
1. Filling out the Notice of Intended Marriage
The Attorney General’s website has the link to download the form of notice of intended marriage. This form needs to be filled up and submitted to the celebrant within a specified frame of time. A proof of evidence is needed to show that you and your partner are exactly who you claim to be. The evidence should show the date and place of birth. A passport, birth certificate, or any other government ID proof is accepted.
In the case of previous marriages, proof of divorce is compulsory. If the previous partner has passed away then a death certificate should be provided to the celebrant.
2. Signing the declaration
After the Notice of intended marriage has been approved by the marriage celebrant, the couple needs to sign a declaration of no legal impediment to marriage. This should be done on a date that is close to the wedding date. This declaration is proof that the couple has attained the legal age of marriage, is not currently married to another person, is not involved in a prohibited relationship, and does not know of any impediment to the marriage. Signing the declaration after the marriage is considered illegal.
3. Certificates post marriage
On the wedding day, the couple, their witnesses, and the marriage celebrant are required to sign some certificates. Two of these are called the Official certificate of marriage and the other is a Presentation certificate. The latter is handed over to the couple as proof of the marriage. The official certificates along with the Notice of intended Marriage and Declaration are to be submitted to the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages office. This is to be done by the marriage celebrant within fourteen days of the ceremony.
If you have a legal marriage outside Australia, there is no need to have a legal ceremony in the country. If you wish to get a marriage certificate under the Australian government, then you will have to involve a marriage celebrant. An Australian citizen marrying outside the country will also be considered legal if the country in which the marriage was held provides a marriage certificate.