Helpful Information

Marriage Legalities

Marriage laws in Australia are a function of the federal government. All civil marriage celebrants must be authorised by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department.

The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 commenced 9 December 2017, changing the definition of marriage and providing marriage equality.  Your right to marry in Australia is no longer determined by sex or gender.  You can find more information on the Attorney General’s website (www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage)

The wedding papers you sign on your wedding day, are important and binding legal documents.  The marriage contract is a legal commitment to respect, care for and support each other and any children of your marriage. The contract covers property rights, custody rights and impacts on inheritance rights.

The Notice of Intended Marriage form must be lodged at least one month and one day before the date of your wedding. You can lodge the form with me up to 18 months prior to the wedding.

You must be over the age of 18 to marry in Australia and you need two people over the age of 18 to act as your witnesses.

You will need to provide evidence to your celebrant of the date and place of birth and your identity. If you were born in Australia you will need to show original Birth Certificates or an Australian passport as proof of date and place of birth and proof of identity.

If you were born overseas you are required to show your birth certificate or passport from your country of birth. If you are unable to provide either a birth certificate or an overseas passport then a Statutory Declaration must be completed that explains why a birth certificate cannot be provided, states where and when you were born and provides details of any alternative identification.

If you have been previously married, you must show a Decree Absolute, Certificate of Divorce or Death Certificate of the previous spouse prior to the marriage. The NOIM form can be completed prior to the divorce.

Marriage Ceremony Requirements

There are some specific legal requirements for the wording of a marriage ceremony. The marriage celebrant must say they are authorised by law to marry you, and give the definition of Marriage according to Australian law. This changes today (9 December, 2017) to the “union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.  Your ceremony also needs to reflect the significance of the occasion.

A marriage by an authorised marriage celebrant who is not from a main stream religious organisation, must use the following words in the Marriage Vows:

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse).”

The Attorney General’s Department has published the following “This change allows marrying couples to make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship. The term ‘husband’ can refer to a male marriage partner, and ‘wife’ to a female marriage partner, regardless of the sex or gender of the person saying the vows. The term ‘spouse’ can refer to a male, female, intersex, non-binary gender or transgender person.”  (9 December 2017, www.ag.gov.au)

There are some slight changes that are permissible to the wording of the vows. For example:

One may leave out “lawful” or wedded, but not both.
One may use a First and Middle or First and Last name for A or B, only if the couples full names are used in full, sometime before the Vows, preferably early in the ceremony.

The first phrase may become “I ask everyone here to witness” but not “I ask family and friends here to witness” etc.
Under Australian law, the point at which you are married is when you will take each other as husband and wife, in front of two adult witnesses and a registered marriage celebrant.

Changing Your Name On Legal Documents

To change your name at Vic Roads or the Passports Office you will require the certified copy of your marriage certificate. This form is available from Births, Deaths and Marriages approximately a week or two after your wedding. The application form for this certificate is available from the Post Office or online. There is a small fee payable.

Change of name after marriage

Marriage certificate application

Victoria Relationship Register

To register a domestic relationship, you and your partner must complete a domestic relationship registration form.

When applying to register a relationship you and your partner need to:

  • Complete the application in full.
  • Submit all required proof of identity documents (see the application form or proof of identity page for more details).

 

By mail: Submit certified photocopies of each document. See the proof of identity page for advice on how to get your photocopies certified.

In person: Submit either original proof of identity documents or certified photocopies.

Include the required payment or credit card details.

Ensure your application is signed and witnessed accordingly.

By law, it takes at least 28 days to register a domestic relationship from the date the Registry receives a complete and valid application. Incomplete or invalid applications can take longer to register or may be refused.

Who can register a domestic relationship?

You and your partner can register a domestic relationship if:

  • you are both 18 years of age or older and are in a registrable relationship
  • you can both prove that you are ordinarily resident in Victoria, and
  • neither of you is married; or
  • in a relationship that is already registered; or
  • in another relationship that could be registered in Victoria.

 

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