Family Law Library

My partner and I plan to get married next month in New Zealand. Will our marriage be legally recognised in Australia?

Not yet.  Despite the legalisation of same-sex marriages in countries throughout the western world and a fifth of the states in the United States, lesbian and homosexual couples still can’t legally exchange vows in Australia.  And going overseas – even as close as New Zealand, which legalised same-sex marriages in April 2013 – won’t help.  The marriage certificate given abroad has no standing in Australia.

Section 88 of the Marriage Act, 1961 refers to marriages conducted abroad.  An overseas marriage is valid in Australia ONLY if it is recognised as valid in the country where it took place (ie Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, etc.) at the time it was entered into AND if the marriage would have been legal under Australian law had it taken place in Australia.  Just to be sure the point is clear,  section 88EA was amended in 2003 and clearly states that a union between two men or between two women conducted abroad “must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia”.