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Bill's Law - Marriage - 27 Sept

Bill Bevan - Marriage

 This week begins a two part series on law and marriage to coincide with our live wedding to be screened next week.

Now&.for those viewers who are considering taking the "big plunge" what are some of the legalities they need to be aware of?

 Before you can get a marriage licence you have to give the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages "Notice of marriage". The person giving notice must appear personally before the Registrar and make a statutory declaration that s/he believes that the marriage is not between persons within the prohibited degrees of relationship and that there is no other lawful impediment to the intended marriage.

Q: What are the prohibited degrees of relationship?

A man may not marry his;
(1) Grandmother: (2) Grandfather's wife: (3) Wife's grandmother: (4) Father's sister: (5) Mother's sister: (6) Mother: (7) Stepmother: (8) Wife's mother: (9) Daughter: (10) Wife's daughter: (11) Sons' wife: (12) Sister: (13) Son's daughter: (14) Daughter's daughter (15) Son's son's wife: (16) Daughter's son's wife: (17) Wife's son's daughter: (18) Wife's daughter's daughter: (19) Brother's daughter: (20) Sister's daughter.

A woman may not marry her;
(1) Grandfather: (2) Grandmother's husband: (3) Husband's grandfather: (4) Father's brother: (5) Mother's brother: (6) Father: (7) Stepfather: (8) Husband's father: (9) Son: (10) Husband's son: (11) Daughter's husband: (12) Brother: (13) Son's son: (14) Daughter's son: (15) Son's daughter's husband: (16) Daughter's daughter's husband: (17) Husband's son's son: (18) Husband's daughter's son: (19) Brother's son: Sister's son.

Q: What other "impediments" would prevent persons marrying?

-The bride or bridegroom cant be under 16 (but not void if married under 16)
-Can't be already married
-Can't be the same sex
-Under 18 needs consent of parents

 Same sex marriages were dealt with by the Court of Appeal in the Quilter case where lesbian couple applied to the Registrar for a marriage licence and were refused. They argued discrimination based on sex but were unsuccessful as Court held that the Marriage Act contemplated marriage between a man and woman and if that were to change Parliament would need to amend the Marriage Act not the courts.
Parliament responded with the Civil Union Act 2004 which allows same sex couples to legally solemnise their relationships.

Q: What happens if someone who is already married, fails to declare this and marries again?

 Firstly, they commit the offence of bigamy punishable by 7 years imprisonment. Bigamy now includes not only the offence of marrying while still married but also being civilly united while still in a civil union. If the person they tried to marry knew that were already married they also commit an offence and are liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.
Secondly, the subsequent marriage (or civil) is of no legal effect so is void.

Q: Can you be in a civil union and marry another person while still in a civil union?

No, that's falls within the definition of bigamy found in s.205 of the Crimes Act.

Q: Is it an offence to be in a de facto relationship with two persons at the same time?

No its not&but it could be very dangerous !

Q: What happens if a 16 or 17 years wants to marry and their parent refuse to consent?

The couple can apply to the Family Court judge for an order that consent be dispensed with.

Q: How long does it take to get the marriage licence?

 3 days after notice is given to the Registrar the licence can be issued and the marriage can proceed. The marriage must be performed by a marriage celebrant recognised by the Registrar.
During the marriage ceremony each party must say to the other-
"I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife or husband"; or (b) words to similar effect;

Q: Is there still such a thing as "Breach of promise"?

No&the Domestic Action Act states that marriage is not a contract and breach of promise is not actionable in any Court. So if either party is stood up at the altar&there's nothing legally that can be done.

Q: Finally& what circumstance can a marriage be legally annulled?

Contrary to popular belief "consummation" is not a legal requirement of a legal marriage and failing to "do the deed" is not grounds for an annulment.
A marriage can be declared "void ab initio" where for example:-
the parties did not freely consent to the marriage by reason of duress, mistake, or insanity, or for any other reason, there was at the time of the marriage an absence of consent by either party; or
either party was already married or in a civil union; or
the parties to the marriage are within the prohibited degrees of relationship.