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Can couples be married at first sight in Australia?

in Family Law by Mona Emera on

You may know a couple who swear their marriage was built on 'love at first sight'. But in the world of celebrities and reality TV, being 'married at first sight' is seemingly now the new ultimate test of love. So is it legal?

Many of you may wonder whether it is legal for someone to marry a stranger, whether arranged marriages are permitted in Australia, how well and for how long a couple must know each other before marriage, and whether they can get a quick divorce if their relationship doesn’t work out.

In Australia, couples must give written notice of their intention to marry. A Notice of Intended Marriage form must be completed one month before a wedding and given to an authorised celebrant to send to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages after the wedding.

Unlike forced marriages, arranged marriages are not illegal in Australia. A third party can arrange for a couple to be married, but the couple must enter the marriage freely and fully consenting. A person who forces a couple to marry could be charged and face a term of imprisonment.

The law does not require a couple to know each other well or prove that they have been in a relationship before they marry. It is, however, against the law to pretend to be somebody you are not. Such an act could be deemed to be fraud and could lead to the marriage being annulled. These cases are rare.

Marriage vows aside, the law does not require a married couple to love each other, live together or be faithful to each other.

While it is not against the law to rush into marriage, it is important for couples who do get married quickly to be aware of the potential risks. 

In Australia, a married person can only apply for a divorce once they have been separated for a year. If they are married for less than two years they must in most cases undergo counselling before a divorce will be granted.

There is also the stress and cost of filing for divorce to consider, while those who are asset rich run the risk of losing out in a property settlement if their marriage ends. 

For more information, visit our Family Law services.

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