Recognition of Foreign Marriages and Same-Sex Divorces in Australia

09 March 2018

We are often asked about whether Marriages which originated outside Australia are recognised under the Family Law of Australia. 

The general rule with respect to marriages is that if a marriage is legally recognised in the foreign country, then it will be recognised in Australia, subject to the following exceptions:

  • If either of the parties at the time was still married to another person;
  • If either of the parties was not of marriageable age (18 years old) if he/she was domiciled in Australia;
  • If the parties are within a prohibited relationship (being an ancestor, descendent or a brother and a sister);
  • If there was no real consent (for example: because it was obtained by duress or fraud; because of mistaken identity; mistaken understanding of the nature of the ceremony being performed; or if a party is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony)

There is no need (and it is not possible) to register a foreign marriage in Australia.  In Australia, a foreign marriage certificate can be produced as evidence of the marriage and it is accepted as being legal, subject to the exceptions listed above.

As from 9 December 2017, Australia legally recognised same-sex marriage and same-sex Divorce.  Same‑sex couples in Australia are covered under Australia's Family Law Act and can apply for a Divorce, regardless of when the marriage took place. The divorces of same‑sex couples who divorced outside of Australia before 9 December 2017 are also recognised in Australia.

The Family Court of Australia has jurisdiction to deal with the other issues resulting from a relationship or marriage breakdown in Australia, namely, issues regarding the parenting of children and property and financial issues.  Any type of married couple (or de-facto couple)  has access to rights under the Australian Family Law Act as long as there is a jurisdictional connection to Australia.

You should consult Melbourne Family Lawyers for specialist Family Law advice to find the best solution with respect to Divorce and Australian, international and same-sex Family Law issues.  Please telephone us on +613 9670 9677 or click on the Make an Enquiry button on the top right of this page.

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