Getting married under the palm trees of Fiji, amongst the hills of Tuscany or along the beaches of Sri Lanka can seem like a really romantic option for a destination wedding but getting married internationally can present some unwanted difficulties upon your return to Australia. If your wedding occurred outside Australia or you intend to get married internationally, there are some specific requirements that you need to make sure you satisfy so that your marriage will be recognised in Australia.
As outlined in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth), for an international marriage to be recognised there are 2 basic requirements that need to be satisfied:
- The marriage must be recognised as valid according to the local law of the country in which the wedding occurred; and
- If the wedding were to occur in Australia, it would also be recognised as valid.
Valid According to Local Law
For your marriage to be recognised in Australia, you need to ensure that the marriage was valid in the country in which it occurred. That is, if you were married in France you need to make sure you abide by all the French requirements for marriage, or if you were married in Saudi Arabia you need to ensure that you complied with all the Saudi Arabian requirements for marriage, etc.
If you have not complied with the regulations of the country in which you were married, your marriage will not be recognised in Australia.
Valid According to Australian Law
In addition to complying with the local law regulating marriage, you must also ensure that you comply with the Australian requirements for marriage. These requirements are:
- Neither of you are already married
- Both of you are 18 or older
- You are not closely related (either siblings or ancestors/descendants); and
- There is genuine consent from both of you (consent will not be considered genuine if there is duress, deception regarding identity, or either party misunderstand the nature of what the marriage means).
What does this mean for me?
If you were married in another country and you are unsure as to whether your marriage is recognised as valid in Australia, your first step should be to seek legal advice. Being mistaken about the validity of a marriage may cause issues, especially if you were to get remarried to someone else in the future. There are also some migration, child support or estate effects that may flow from not having a valid marriage.
If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Frank Law on (02) 9688 6023.
This is not legal advice.