This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Marriage Legalities
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Not married to someone else

By Published On: March 11, 2021Categories: Marriage Legalities
This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Marriage Legalities

One of the legal requirements for getting married in Australia is that the parties to the marriage must not be married (including to each other) (s23B, Marriage Act 1961). If either or both of the parties has been married before, they have to prove to their authorised celebrant that they are no longer married. Let’s take a look at how this works.

Grounds on which marriages are void

S23B of the Marriage Act outlines a number of reasons a marriage would be void (i.e. invalid). One of these reasons is if either of the parties is, at the time of the marriage, lawfully married to someone else. Bigamy (being married to more than one person at a time) is an offence under Australian law, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment (s94, Marriage Act 1961).

Second marriage ceremonies

It is also an offence under Australian law for a couple who are already legally married to get legally married a second time (s99 and s113, the Marriage Act 1961), punishable by up to six months’ imprisonment. I often get phone calls from people who got married overseas. They’ve discovered that to change their name in Australia they need an Australian marriage certificate so they want to get married again. I have to tell them this is illegal, and I never hear from them again. I suspect the next celebrant they call doesn’t get the full story.

(There are some specific circumstances under which a couple who believes they have already been legally married can be legally married again, but they involve lawyers and statutory declarations that the original marriage was suspect for whatever reason.)

Proving you are no longer married

If you have been married before and you want to get married again, it’s absolutely no problem. You just need to provide evidence of the termination of your previous marriage to your authorised celebrant.

Divorce

If your previous marriage ended in divorce, you need to provide your divorce order. Divorce orders have been issued electronically in Australia since 2011. You can just forward the PDF straight to your celebrant or print it out to show them. If you were divorced in Australia follow the instructions at this link to get hold of your divorce order.

Death

If your previous marriage ended in the death of your former spouse, you will need to provide their death certificate. You’ll need to show your celebrant either the original hard copy or a photo/scan of it. You apply for a death certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State/Territory in which your former spouse died. Here’s the links:

Nullity

If your previous marriage ended in annulment, you will need to provide the nullity order from the court that issued it. You’ll need to show your celebrant either the original hard copy or a photo/scan of it. A nullity order from a church is not sufficient.

More information

Click here for a full overview of the legal requirements of marriage in Australia.

Click on this link to find all the posts in my series about marriage legalities.

If you’re a celebrant wanting help with marriage legalities, come and join us at the Celebrant Institute!

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awesome wedding readingsUs Two wedding reading
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Series Navigation<< Marriageable age in AustraliaProhibited relationships in Australia >>