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Making Your Marriage Legal


For couples marrying in Australia

In Australia, marriage falls under the Federal Marriage Act (1961).  The law states that people wishing to marry legally in Australia must comply with following requirements:

You must both be over 18 years of age

Both people must be 18 years of age or older.  People over 16 years of age may be married, but they will require consent from both a judge and both sets of parents.

Give notice of your intention to marry

You must give notice of your intention to marry by completing the ‘Notice of Intended Marriage' form available from a wedding officiant of from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.  This must be lodged not less than one month before and not more than six months before the wedding.  There is a small fee involved.  Three weeks before your marriage you will need to sign a ‘Declaration of Marriage' which simply confirms your intention to marry and states that there is no reason why you cannot be married.

Verify your identity

Before the wedding, you must both verify your identity by producing a number of documents (all in English, or translated by a certified translator):

  • Original birth certificate (not a photocopy or an extract) - a passport is acceptable for those who were born outside Australia
  • Decree Absolute (if one of the parties is divorced)
  • Death certificate of previous spouse (if applicable)
  • Citizenship papers (if applicable)
  • Change of name document (if applicable)
  • Relevant documentation according to the demands of your religion - your marriage officiant will tell you if there's anything else you need to consider

Choose an authorised marriage officiant

In Australia, you must be married in the presence of an authorised person. This can be a minister of religion or a marriage celebrant.

Sign a marriage certificate

The marriage certificate is signed immediately after the conclusion of the marriage service.  This is witnessed and signed by two people over the age of 18.  You keep a copy and your officiant forwards the necessary paperwork to the Registry Office to be processed and certified.  Only after these papers have been processed are you legally married.  A certified copy of your marriage certificate can be obtained from the Registry Office for a small fee.

Once married, you are under legally bound to financially support your spouse and any children that are born as a result of the marriage.

For more information, visit the local Births, Deaths and Marriages office in your state.

For couples marrying in New Zealand

If you are getting married in New Zealand, here's what you need to consider:

Decide when and where you want to get married

You will need to know when and where you want to get married when you complete your application for a marriage licence. You should also choose an alternative venue in the event that the weather prevents you from marrying at your primary venue.

Choose a marriage celebrant

In New Zealand you must be married by an appointed marriage celebrant. This may be a Registrar of Marriages, an independent marriage celebrant, a minister of a church or a person connected with an approved organisation. Contact a Registrar of Marriages for a list of appointed marriage celebrants.

You will need to contact your marriage celebrant and agree on a time and place before applying for your marriage licence.

Obtain a marriage licence

To obtain a licence you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage application form. If either of you have been married or in a civil union before, and the marriage or civil union has been dissolved, you will be asked to produce evidence of the dissolution (e.g. Divorce/Dissolution Order) when you give notice to the Registrar. If your previous spouse or partner has died you do not have to produce evidence of their death, but you will have to give the date of death on the Notice of Intended Marriage.

Make a statutory declaration

As part of completing the application form for a marriage licence, you need to make a statutory declaration. Either you or your partner will need to make a formal statutory declaration that there is no lawful impediment to the marriage (i.e. no legal reason that you both cannot be married), that the details given are true, that the bride and groom are not within the "prohibited degrees of relationship" and that consent has been given (where relevant).

For more information, visit the New Zealand Birth Deaths and Marriages website.

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