Never Validly Married? What does that mean? 

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant ©
Categories: | Wedding Legals |
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                              Validly Married Sign on the back of a red
                              car. Decorated with swathes of cream
                              tulle, and white flowersIn Australia, being "validly married" means that your marriage is recognised by the government as a legal marriage.

Although the Australian government does recognise "marriage-like" relationships - those that used to be called common-law marriages but are now referred to as de-facto relationships - for taxation and other purposes, only a legal marriage is universally recognised  wherever you might travel.

Why "Validly"


The word Validly means that the marriage was legally binding.
Never Validly Married means that you have never been legally married and any previous relationships did not result in a valid marriage according to Australian law.

In order for a marriage to be valid in Australia, it must be
  • Between two people who are at least 18 years of age (or have parental consent and the approval of the court if one of them is 16  or 17)
  • Consensual and entered into freely by both parties
  • Conducted by a person who is authorised to solemnise marriages in Australia (such as a religious minister or a civil celebrant)
  • Comply with certain legal requirements including completing and lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage a minimum of one month prior, proving your identity, and having two adults present to witness your marriage.
  • Be solemnised in a ceremony wherewith both of you,  your two witnesses, and your celebrant, are all physically present in the same space during the ceremony.

Stating your Conjugal Status on the Paperwork


One of the requirements for marriage is that each of you confirms in writing, in a signed statement  what your current conjugal status is, on three separate documents
  • on your Notice of Intended Marriage
  • in your Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage
  • on your official marriage certificate

If you have been previously married your current conjugal status will depend on how your last previous married ended

  • You are Divorced if you and your previous spouse obtained a legal divorce through a court
  • You are Widowed if your previous spouse died

Telling a lie about your current conjugal status will have consequences, including time in prison.

Married, but not "Validly"?


If you have been previously married, but that marriage was annulled (or declared void) by a court of law, it is regarded to have never been legal, and therefore, invalid (in other words, from the legal point of view it never happened), so you were and are Never Validly Married.

If you have registered a relationship under a state or territory scheme (whether with the person you are now marrying, or someone else) it was not a legal marriage, so you were and are Never Validly Married.

Your conjugal status will be recorded on your marriage certificate


When you get your official marriage certificate (the one that proves that your marriage has passed the tests, is confirmed as being a valid marriage, and has been registered, in the sections for each of you your conjug
al status at the time of your marriage will be stated. If you've never been married before it will say "Never Validly Married". 

Don't panic! Your certificate is proof that you are now married to each other. Births, Deaths, and Marriages only issues marriage certificates where the couple and their celebrant have done everything required to make your marriage legal!

Of course, if one of you had been married before, your certificate will note Divorced or Widowed.

Married overseas?  That might not be quite so simple


While marriage entered into overseas may be recognised in Australia even if it was not compliant with Australian marriage law at the time of the marriage if it was a valid marriage according to the laws of the country where your wedding took place.

However, if one or both of you was officially resident in Australia at the time of the marriage, the rules that apply are different from those that apply if neither of was resident in Australia at the time.

Put simply, if one or both of you was resident in Australia at the time you got married overseas, and your marriage did not comply with Australia law, for example, one of you was 17 and you did not have court approval to marry, that marriage will never be recognised in Australia.

But, if neither of you was resident in Australia at the time of the marriage, once an underage party reaches 16 the marriage will be recognised as long as all other legal requirements are met, for example, the you are not closely related by blood or adoption, and you were not married to anyone else at the time.

Thanks for reading!

Click to contact
                        Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
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