Destination weddings are the new “black” but when you get married overseas are you legally married in Australia?
I recently had a client attend at my office for some advice regarding her separation. She indicated that her partner and her were defacto. As the conversation progressed, it became apparent that the parties had in fact been married but that they were married in Las Vegas and told that the wedding itself was not legal in Australia unless they registered it – which they never did. So therefore, according to my client they were defacto.
This tiny bit of information provided to my client by her marriage celebrant in Las Vegas was not entirely correct.
An overseas marriage will generally be recognised in Australia if it was a valid marriage in the country where the wedding took place and if it would have been recognised as valid under Australian Law if the marriage had taken place in Australia. There is no requirement to register an overseas marriage certificate in Australia.
That being said, it may not be possible to rely on an overseas marriage certificate for some things such as to change your name on your Australian Drivers licence, or have an Australian passport issued in your married name. Often for these things to occur the marriage needs to be registered in Australia.
For this reason, and to avoid the red tape associated with being married in some foreign locations, a lot of people that chose to “marry” overseas actually legally marry in Australia before the overseas wedding festivities take place.
It is important to remember to take advice regarding the validity of your overseas wedding before and after it has occurred and consider that advice if separating from your partner. I am told that there is nothing more stressful then trying to obtain a quick divorce in time for an upcoming wedding because you thought you were never legally married in the first place!