Legal Requirements for getting married in Australia

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Your wedding day is an exciting time in your life but you are also taking a big legal step in entering a marriage. There are a number of key requirements you need to meet to ensure that your marriage is valid under Australian law. Some of these relate to your status and others relate to words that must be included in your ceremony.

At Life Celebrations with Joy I can help you to navigate the maze of legal requirements and I will be there to answer any questions you may have along the way.

Let’s simplify what you can and cannot do.

  1. You cannot be already legally married
    • whether that marriage occurred in Australia or overseas in a country that Australia recognises as valid for reasons of marriage or
    • even to each other. If you are already legally married you can still have a reaffirmation or renewal of your vows but you cannot have another legal wedding
  2. You must be at least 18 years of age unless you have a court approval for the marriage and even then only one person can be aged between sixteen and eighteen. Under no circumstances can people under the age of 16 legally marry.
  3. You cannot marry your parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister even if the sibling is only half-blood or are adopted.
  4. You can marry your uncle, aunt, niece or nephew, your cousin or other individuals who have lived together as part of your family but have not been adopted.
  5. You can marry a person of the same gender.
  6. You can marry a person from a different age group provided you are both over 18.
  7. You must both understand what marriage means and freely consent to becoming a married couple.
  8. You must be married by a person who is authorised to perform marriages under Australian law – this can be a religious celebrant or an authorised marriage celebrant depending on your personal preference.
  9. You must include certain specific words in the ceremony – the monitum and the legal vows as a minimum.
  10. You and your witnesses must complete the signing of your documents together with your celebrant at the time of your wedding.
  11. You must lodge a written Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) with your celebrant at least one calendar month before your wedding date. This process will require the provision of identification documentation in a specified manner. The completed document remains effective for 18 months after the date of lodgement.
  12. You must also complete a Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage prior to the ceremony being performed.
  13. Your marriage must be registered by the Authorised Marriage Celebrant within 14 days after it occurs.
  14. You don’t have to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to legally marry here. You can find marriage visa information on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website, if you hope to live in Australia after your marriage.

If you have problems meeting the one month notice period for the NOIM there are certain circumstances under which a request can be made to the relevant prescribed authority to reduce the time. These generally relate to serious matters such as terminal illness or imminent deployment overseas. If you need that talk to me and I can help you to arrange it. Under no circumstances can a NOIM be backdated to facilitate a wedding date that occurs within the one month period. This is an illegal act and constitutes an offence with serious consequences for both the couple and the celebrant.

At the wedding ceremony you will sign three documents. Each document will be signed by you, your two witnesses and your celebrant.

You will be given a Commemorative Marriage Certificate however while this is a record of your marriage, it is not a legal document for the purposes of changing your name with statutory authorities and Government agencies eg changing your passport or driver’s licence.

For this purpose you will need to apply for a certified copy of the Certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. At the time of writing this the charge for this Certificate in Queensland is $50.40 including postage which is paid directly to the Registry. I can arrange your application at the same time as I register your marriage. So that you receive it as soon as your marriage is registered. Once I submit the wedding documentation together with your application, the Registry will contact you directly regarding payment of the fee and delivery arrangements. Delivery normally takes between 2 and 4 weeks.

Call me to organise a meeting so that we can prepare all the relevant documentation to ensure that your wedding runs smoothly.

In our next chapter we will start to plan your journey. Don’t miss it!

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