By Kristina Antoniades (Special Counsel)
The reforms to the Marriage Act 1961 (“the Act”) commenced from midnight, 8 December 2017. While many are still celebrating the long-awaited reforms, the changes to the Act have flow on consequences for same sex couples who married overseas.
If you’re planning to get married
If you are planning on marrying your partner, you must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage and observe the one-month minimum notice period required under the Act, prior to being legally able to marry.
This means that same-sex couples can marry from as early as 9 January 2018, if they have met these requirements.
What does this mean if you were married overseas?
For those same sex couples who married overseas, the Act will now automatically recognise their unions from 8 December 2017.
But if you married overseas and are no longer together … you’re still married
If you and your partner married overseas but have since separated, the amendments to the Act mean that you are still legally married to your ex-partner.
To complicate things further, if you are now in a new domestic relationship, under Australian law you will legally be recognized as being in two relationships.
There are potentially many repercussions for people in these circumstances, including in relation to protection of assets. This also means that your marriage will revoke your existing Wills.
What you need to do
If you were married overseas and have since separated, you will be required to make an Application for Divorce in the Family Court of Australia. This can be done administratively and without the need to attend Court.
For those people that have married overseas and now seek to marry a different partner in Australia, your Application for Divorce will not be heard prior to 9 January 2018 and therefore any intention to marry will be delayed. Depending on the Registry of the Family Court in which your Application for Divorce is lodged, it could take up to 12 weeks to receive a date for your hearing.
We’re here to assist
If you find yourself in a situation where you are legally married to your ex-partner, please call us and we can help guide you through the process of applying for a divorce.
We offer fixed fees and will be able to assist you promptly so that your Application is lodged without delay.
For more information and an obligation free chat, please call our Family & Relationship Law team on (03) 8680 3451.