The legal definition of marriage in Australia has changed today. In a historic change to the Australian law, The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 today received Royal Assent from the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove as the final step to effect this change of law, amending the definition of “marriage” in the Marriage Act 1961 from “the union of a man and a woman” to “the union between 2 people”.
The Bill first passed the Senate on 28 November 2017 and was passed in the House of Representatives on 7 December 2017.
The reforms will officially commence tomorrow Saturday 9 December 2017. Couples won’t be able to get married until the New Year however, given there are still notice provisions in the that require parties to provide written intention to be married no less than 1 month prior to the date of marriage. From tomorrow same sex couples can lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage to commence the one-month minimum notice period required (and noting you can lodge this up to 18 months before the intended marriage date). This means first weddings could happen from 9 January 2018 for a couple who lodged their form tomorrow. The new forms ( Notice of Intended Marriage) are now available at http://www.ag.gov.au/marriageforms.
The amendment to the definition of “marriage” will also allow same-sex couples who have married in a foreign country to have their marriages recognised in Australia.
You may wish to discuss your rights and legal position with one of our Family Lawyers.
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