This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Marriage Legalities
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Parents’ details on the NOIM

By Published On: July 11, 2022Categories: Marriage Legalities
This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Marriage Legalities

Items 11-16 on the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) ask for details of the marrying parties’ parents: their current names, their birth names, and the countries they were born in. Plenty of people ask what their parents have to do with their marriage, which is a fair question. Let’s take a look.

Why do we collect this information?

The marriage documents collect information on your parents for two reasons:

The marriage documents are legal documents and it’s important that they are accurate so as to provide a full picture of your identity.

What information is needed?

The items on the NOIM are pretty self-explanatory but it’s worth a quick overview anyway:

  • Item 11 asks for the full current name of each party’s Parent 1 (or if you legitimately don’t know who at least one of your parents is, you can write unknown).
    • Full names means just that: their full legal name, including any middle names, with no abbreviations or initials.
    • Current name means the name the parent is currently (or most recently) known by, whether they’re dead or alive.
  • Item 12 ask for the full birth name of each party’s Parent 1 (or unknown)
    • Birth name means the name the parent was born with (we’re still awaiting advice on what to do about trans parents who have legally changed their name on their birth certificates).
  • Item 13 asks, if applicable, for the full current name of each party’s Parent 2 (or unknown)
    • In this age of solo parenting with sperm and egg donors, there are plenty of people who legitimately only have one legal parent. So it’s great that all the items relating to Parent 2 are noted as if applicable.
  • Item 14 asks, if applicable, for the full birth name of each party’s Parent 2 (or unknown)
  • Item 15 asks for the country of birth of each party’s Parent 1 (or unknown)
    • Note this is only country of birth, so it differs from the birthplace item for the parties.
  • Item 16 asks, if applicable, for the country of birth of each party’s Parent 2 (or unknown)

Personally I would have listed all of Parent 1’s details together, so current name, birth name, and country of birth. Then Parent 2’s details could have been listed together as well. That would have made much more sense as far as I’m concerned.

If any of the information in items 11-16 is unknown, you can just put unknown in the appropriate field. You don’t have to provide a statutory declaration about why you don’t know the info like you do with the rest of the items.

Do you have to fill in this section?

In a word, yes. I’ve written about this elsewhere but basically it’s an offence under the Marriage Act 1961 not to list your legal parents on the NOIM if you know who they are. Both you and I could get in a lot of trouble and even go to prison!

Side notes if you’re interested

Gender-neutral language

It took a LONG time for us to get gender-neutral language in this section of parents’ details on the NOIM. Until September 2021 this section asked for Father’s name in full and Mother’s maiden name in full. We pointed out that there are now lots of people with parents of one gender, so got Parent 1 and Parent 2. We also pointed out that people of all genders change their names for all sorts of reasons, not only through marriage. Therefore only asking for the birth name of the mother and calling it her maiden name was pretty sexist and out of date. We didn’t actually expect them to ask for current names and birth names for both parents, but here we are. I personally think if we have to have parents’ names at all, current names would have been sufficient for family history purposes.

Definition of “parent”

There’s also been a lot of argy-bargy about who counts as a parent for the purposes of this section. Is it a biological parent? Is it a legal parent? What if you know who your biological father is but they’re not listed on your birth certificate? The Marriage Law and Celebrants Section of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department seem to have settled on it being your legal parent. They define legal parent as including:

  • a person named on the birth certificate
  • an adoptive parent, or
  • someone other recognised as the parent by declaration of a court.

So there you go! There’s the lowdown on parents’ details on the NOIM. I hope it helps!

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.

Click on this link to find all the posts in my series about Australian wedding ceremonies.

If you’re a celebrant wanting help with all things celebrancy, come and join us at the Celebrant Institute!

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