So, the time has come when your divorce is finalised and you think to yourself, ‘I don’t need my old marriage certificate anymore.’ Some people have had a ceremonial destruction of the marriage certificate to signify the end of that period of their life.
However, it’s important to remember that a marriage certificate, just like your birth certificate, passport and drivers licence, is an official identification document.
Issues can, and do, arise in different areas of the law when someone has destroyed their marriage certificate, and are later required to produce change of name evidence for identification purposes relating to assets held in their married name such as a lease, property or Will. Evidence may be required to show the link to your married name in order to deal with these particular assets. If that evidence is not available, it may mean that additional documents need to be prepared (adding extra costs) and that certain other legal matters may be delayed unnecessarily.
‘But’, you might ask, ‘What about the marriage certificate issued by my celebrant?’ Whilst the marriage certificate from your celebrant is certainly nicer looking than the one issued by the Registry office, it is not an official marriage certificate and will not be accepted by government agencies or banks as proof of marriage or change of name evidence.
If you have destroyed your marriage certificate, you can apply for a new one from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State you were married. There are fees for applying for a new certificate and, as with all government departments, a processing period applies before your new certificate is issued. You will also need to provide certain identification documents when making the application which need to be certified by a qualified witness.
So, to save yourself unnecessary fees, delays, and headaches, it’s best to retain your original marriage certificate.