Legalities

Note: The information on this website is of a general nature
and is not to be taken as legal advice.

Legal Requirements

73

While there is great individuality in a civil marriage ceremony, there are certain legal requirements that must be met to make the marriage valid. The celebrant can assist you in understanding these requirements and it is the celebrant’s responsibility to ensure the Marriage Act is followed. However, it is always wise to check the requirements of the law for yourself. Some matters to consider are:

Age

To marry in Australia, you must be 18 years of age. If one of the couple is under 18 but over 16, you can apply to the courts for a special dispensation. However, this is usually only granted in rare and exceptional circumstances. It would be best to consult a lawyer before pursuing this path.

Wording

There are certain requirements under the law regarding statements that must be made during a ceremony. The celebrant must say ‘The Monitum’, a reminder to the couple of the serious nature of the undertaking they make that day. The couple must also publicly declare their vows to each other and include a particular statement.

Notice of Intended Marriage

The Notice of Intended Marriage is a form that the celebrant will supply and help you to complete. It must be lodged at least one month prior to the marriage. While this time can be shortened under special circumstances, it is normally unable to be changed. A copy of this form can be downloaded from the Federal Attorney General’s web site . The Notice of Intended Marriage must be signed by the couple in front of the celebrant or other witness as specified on the form.

Proof of Identity

If you were born in Australia, an original of your birth certificate must be shown to your celebrant. If you do not have original documentation, you can apply for it at the state registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Usually applications are able to lodged on-line or you can download an application form. You will also require a second form of identification such as a driving licence.

If you were born overseas, you may present an original of your birth certificate, but some official translation may be required. Alternatively, you can use an overseas passport provided it clearly states your name, date and place of birth. If you do not have a birth certificate or passport, you may need to attempt to locate original documentation, which could necessitate a visit to the consulate of your country of origin. If, under exceptional circumstances, you cannot obtain your documents and all reasonable attempts to do so have been made, you may need to sign a Statutory Declaration regarding your birth details. You will also require a second form of identification such as a driving licence.

Previous Marriages

If you have been married before and divorced, the original of the Decree Absolute or Certificate of Divorce from your last marriage will need to be sighted by the celebrant. If you do not have original documentation, you will need to approach the court for a new certificate.

If your previous spouse died, the original of the Death Certificate will need to be shown to your celebrant. If you cannot locate the original documentation, you will need to approach the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the appropriate state for a new certificate.

Code of Practice

The celebrant should have on display their qualifications and a copy of the Code of Practice for Civil Marriage Celebrants. If you have any complaints about your celebrant, you can make a complaint to the Federal Attorney General’s Department.

Vows

There is a requirement under the Marriage Act that you include a particular sentence, however, the remainder of the vows is your choice.

Your celebrant should be able to provide you with sample ceremonies. Many couples prefer to write their own ceremony and vows. When reciting the vows the couples usually face each other and the celebrant reads the vows aloud phrase-by-phrase and the couple repeats them in turn. Some couples read their vows from cue cards or memorize them; any of these methods is acceptable and it is completely your choice.

Witnesses

Two witnesses over the age of 18 are required. The couple must supply the witnesses and they can be from the wedding party, relatives or friends.

Contact

If you have any questions on the above, contact me so we can discuss your situation.