Will your Australian marriage be recognised overseas?

 
by Jennifer Cram (06/08/2019)  |  Categories:  | Wedding Legals |
One of the questions I'm often asked is whether a marriage registered in Australia will be recognised overseas. Generally speaking, legal marriages solemnised in Australia are recognised world wide but, that's not the whole story.

As is the case in Australia, your marriage will be recognised if it complies with the law in the particular country. So, recognition by other countries of marriages solemnised in Australia may well depend on who they prohibit you from marrying.

Australian law is very liberal as to who you can marry, as detailed in this diagram.
Diagram showing who a person may or may not
                    marry according to Australian law

There is a widespread belief that first cousins are forbidden to marry. Historically, for a period, that was true. And in many countries and in various states of the US, it is still true. In fact, in some US states marrying your first cousin is a criminal offence, in some states infertility is a pre-requisite for legal marriage between cousins, and in some other states, a marriage of first cousins entered elsewhere is void.

Other things to check are legal minimum age for marriage in the country you wish to recognise your marriage. In Australia you both have to be at least 18 to marry, though, with court permission, one of you can be 16 or 17. Most countries allow legal marriage at 18, so marrying in Australia when 18 or older should not cause you problems on grounds of age at marriage in those. However, there are some countries, and some provinces of Canada, for example, where the legal age for marriage without parental or court permission is 19 or older (20, 21, and even 22 not being uncommon). And many where no exceptions to the legal minimum age of 18 are allowed. So best to check if you are young.

If you are a same-sex couple, you should check whether a same-sex marriage is recognised by the country you are interested in.

Another thing to check is whether you need to register your Australian marriage with the embassy of the particular country you are interested in. You may well need an Apostille (obtainable from the Australian Passport Office) to certify that your marriage certificate is a legal government document.

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