In Australia, marriage is regulated by the Marriage Act 1961, which sets out the process for getting married and the legal requirements of a valid marriage. Following are the five basic steps of getting married in Australia.
A completed Notice of Intended Marriage form must be given to your celebrant at least one month (and up to 18 months) before the wedding.
You and your partner must provide your celebrant with evidence of your date and place of birth, identity and the end of any previous marriages.
You must both sign the ‘Declaration of no legal impediment to marriage’. By signing the Declaration, you declare that you believe that you are of marriageable age, and that there is no legal impediment to your marriage.
On your wedding day, your celebrant will solemnise your marriage. Your celebrant will then ask you, your partner and your witnesses to sign up to three marriage certificates.
After your wedding, your marriage celebrant will register the marriage with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State or Territory where your marriage took place.
Some important things you need to know:
Health and welfare benefits
If you receive health or welfare benefits, you will need to contact the relevant agencies to advise them that you have married. These agencies will advise you if your benefits will change. You may lose benefits and even be penalised if you fail to tell them you have married within a reasonable time after the wedding.
Changing your name
Any person who marries may choose to take their spouse’s surname. You are not legally required to take your spouse’s surname once you are married.
If you wish to take your spouse’s surname, you must obtain a certificate of marriage issued by your state or territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This is usually sufficient evidence to have your personal documentation (e.g. driver’s licence) changed to your married surname.
The certificate you received on your wedding day is ceremonial and will not meet the identity requirements of many government agencies, such as the passport office.
If you marry an Australian citizen, you do not have an automatic right to Australian citizenship. You will still need to apply for citizenship and satisfy the eligibility criteria. You can obtain further information from the Department of Home Affairs website at www.homeaffairs.gov.au.
(Harpal Singh, Civil Marriage Celebrant, NAATI Translator, Member of AUSIT & NZSTI, Ph: 0425 853 086)