Marriage Act is very clear. There are certain things a
celebrant has to ascertain, and some that you have to
provide proof of. To create a ceremony that is
authentic to you, independent authorised celebrants
will ask you questions to get to know a bit about you
and about your wishes fr your ceremony.
However, there are also a number of things that,
despite people's assumptions to the contrary, your
celebrant does not need to know.
Whether you are in love
All your celebrant needs to ascertain is whether both
of you understand what marriage is and whether you are
marrying willingly and of your own free will. Whether
or not you are in love is immaterial.
Whether you plan to live
together after marriage
The Marriage Act lays down no requirements for what
you do after you say I Do
. Other government
authorities may take an interest. For example,
Immigration may investigate you if one of you is not a
citizen or permanent resident, or Centrelink may
re-assess your eligibility if one or both of you
receive some sort of benefit, but what you do after
marriage is not your celebrant's business. Australia
is also highly unusual in that there is no legal
requirement for a marriage to be consummated in order
to validate it. Once you are married the only way out
is divorce, annulment on grounds of non-consummation
does not happen here.
Whether you intend to have
While certain churches might ask about your plans to
have a family, no celebrant needs to know. In fact,
since the change to the Notice of Intended Marriage
and Official Marriage Certificate came into force on
01 September 2021, disclosing your gender is optional,
so your celebrant does not need to know that, either.
Your visa status
There are no visa requirements attached to marriage in
this country. Unlike some other countries, you do not
require a special visa to enable you to be married
here if you are not normally a resident. So
whether you are an Australian citizen, permanent
resident, or here on a temporary visa of some sort, is
irrelevant. In fact, there is nothing in the Marriage
Act to stop you getting married even if you are here
illegally. Obviously that's not a good idea. It is
worth noting that marrying an Australian citizen does
not automatically grant you the right to remain here.
history apart from legal marriages
It is a legal requirement that you declare all
previous legal marriages and that you produce evidence
of how your last marriage ended. Previous de facto
relationships and anything about your sexual history,
is your private business. Your celebrant does not need
to know and should not ask. It's the paperwork that's
the operative thing. Birth certificate, photo ID,
divorce certificate, death certificate of previous
spouse. Anything not on those bits of paper doesn't
need to be disclosed or explained. Your celebrant also
doesn't need to know if you are transgender.
It is also up to you to choose what you disclose
if you have a disability or a medical condition. In
some cases, sharing will make sure that your needs are
accommodated, but it is not a legal requirement.
However, where there may be a question about your
capacity to give real consent, then your celebrant may
need to ask for a medical certificate. But that's a
very rare circumstance.
Your past criminal history, or lack of it, has
no relevance to getting married.
The 3 things your celebrant
has to be sure about
It is an offence to officiate a "void marriage", i.e.
one that should never have taken place because it was
unlawful for the couple to marry. It follows that
there are three things that your celebrant has to know
in order to make sure that your marriage will be
- That you are both old enough to get married
Australian law requires that you must be at
least 18 years old in order to be married without
special court dispensation
- That you are free to marry
There are two aspects to this. The first is
that any previous marriage has ended, either by a
legal divorce (proven by producing a divorce
certificate that certifies that your divorce has
become final), or by the death of a former spouse
(proven by producing an official death
certificate). The second is that you are not in
what is called a "prohibited relationship" with
one another. What that means is that you are not
closely related by blood or adoption. You cannot
marry a direct ancestor (parent, grandparent etc)
or a direct descendant (child, grandchild, etc).
Nor can you marry a whole or half sibling.
- That you are marrying freely and willingly
and no one is pressuring you or forcing you into
the marriage in any way.
Thanks for reading!