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Is Your Marriage Legally Recognised in Australia?

Are you flirting with the idea of an overseas elopement, but aren’t sure if you’ll need to remarry when you get back home? Or perhaps you’re already married and need to know if your overseas union is recognised in Australia? If so, this blog is for you!

According to the Marriage Act of 1961, if your marriage was valid under the laws of the country in which you were initially married, it will usually be recognised by the Australian government, and you won’t have to remarry. 

To have your marriage recognised, you’ll need to show your original marriage certificate, a certified copy, or a “record of marriage issued by a competent authority in a foreign country” to your local births, deaths and marriages registry.

Reasons Your Marriage Won’t Be Recognised

Sometimes an overseas marriage won’t be valid in Australia, either because it isn’t a proper legal contract or it doesn’t fit the Australian government’s definition of marriage.

Your overseas marriage may be invalid if:

  1. One of the parties wasn’t of marriageable age in Australia: Both parties must be at least 18 years old unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old.
  2. One of the parties was married to someone else at the time of marriage: This is known as bigamy, and in Australia it is an offence punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
  3. Parties are too closely related to marry: You can’t marry your parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or sibling.
  4. There is no consent: Marriages that are obtained by duress or fraud, because of a mistaken identity, with a party that didn’t understand the nature of the agreement they were entering into or with a party that was mentally incapable of consenting are all invalid in Australia.
  5. Same-sex marriage: Under the current definition of marriage in Australia, marriage is “the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others”. Same-sex marriages are not legally recognised in Australia, though some state and territory governments allow same-sex couples to register their relationships via their births, deaths and marriages registries.

Does Marrying an Australian Automatically Give Me Rights to Live There? 

Marriage doesn’t mean you automatically can live in Australia – you still need to be approved for a valid partner visa.

To find out more about family or migration law, contact Phoenix Law & Associates on (07) 3180 0908 for an obligation-free confidential discussion, or email us at info@phoenix-law.com.au.