Your selected location:
19 Jun 2017

If I was married outside of Australia is my marriage recognised in Australia?

Leading on from our previous article “Married Twice to the Same Person – Subsequent Ceremonies with unintended consequences” we have decided to continue with our international theme by exploring the topic: Marriages conducted overseas and whether they will be recognized in Australia.

When you announce your destination wedding, guests will typically ask, where? when? do I still need to buy you a gift? However what the typical family lawyer asks will your destination marriage be legally recognised when you come back to Australia?

Granted, it’s not the most enthusiastic approach to a wedding announcement, but at least the lawyer is preparing the couple for the technicalities. Many couples don’t realise that their overseas marriage is not automatically recognised in Australia and that the marriage must be registered. In order for couples to avoid the potential disappointment of returning to Australia to discover that their marriage is not recognised, it is important that they carefully consider and comply with a few legal requirements.

So here’s what you need to know

Pursuant to the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) an overseas marriage cannot be registered in Australia, however it will be recognised if the marriage is valid under the law of the country where the marriage took place and as long as the marriage, if conducted in Australia, would still been considered valid. Further, the following conditions also need to be met:

  1. The marriage is between a male and a female;
  2. Both individuals are 18 years of age or older;
  3. Both individuals are not already married at the time;
  4. That the bride and groom are not closely related, such as brother or sister; and
  5. Where one of the individuals has not consented to the marriage either through mistaken identity, mental capacity, duress or fraud.

The good news is that there is no requirement to register a marriage in Australia which takes place overseas. Section 88G(1)of the Marriage Act states that an original or certified copy of a marriage certificate issued by a competent authority in a foreign country is sufficient evidence of the marriage.

The bad news is that if the marriage took place during a period of civil strife or during a period of armed conflict within the country, then it may be impossible to conform with the local requirements. Therefore, the marriage may not be recognised as valid in Australia. 

What is considered valid and not valid

Same-sex Marriages

Section 5(1) of the Marriage Act stipulates that marriage means the “union of a man and a woman”. There are those that would believe they can avoid these restrictions by marrying in a country that has legalized same sex marriage, however Section 88EA of the Marriage Act also states that some sex unions solemnised in a foreign country will not be recognised as valid in Australia.

Polygamous Marriages

In the matter of Ghazel v Ghazel and Anor [2016] FamCAFC 31 the Family Court considered whether a potentially polygamous relationship could be considered valid, as the parties married in Iran (where it is legal to have up to four wives) in 1981 and moved to Australia in 2007, eventually becoming Australian citizens. The Court held that the potentially polygamous marriage in Iran was considered valid. However in the event that the Husband were to marry a second wife in Australia then that marriage would not be considered valid, as the Husband will only ever be recognised in Australia as being married to his first wife.

In summary, if you want to make sure that your fabulous (and expensive) destination wedding does not go to waste by having to re-do your vows before a civil servant in a Court house, make sure you do your research, comply with the above requirements and try not to get married in a war zone.

If you are unsure about your destination wedding or the validity of your marriage you should seek specific advice from a specialist Family Lawyer.

This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our offices on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.

 

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australians for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at McKinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Anne Hurley. She helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Anne"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO AltusQ Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Anne."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Legal Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker

Select your location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.