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Australia Legalises Same-Sex Marriage. How will it affect the Family Law?

Equal marriage rights_SameSex marriage_Australia

Before 2017 waned off, Australia voted a ‘Yes’ to legalising same-sex marriage with 61.6%. 15th November 2017 saw most of the Australians affirming the same-sex couple’s equal right to marriage as do a heterosexual couple.

On 7th December 2017, the legislation to legalise same-sex marriage was passed and received royal assent from the Governor General the next day. From 9th December 2017, same-sex marriages are legal in Australia.

With that now a history, family law bill goes through an amendment to incorporate the changes to the definition of marriage as in Marriage Act 1961 – from ” Union of a man and a woman” to “Union of two people“.

Now the legal definition of marriage will be defined to ” The union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”, Family court of Australia

However, necessary provisions are underway to not to compel celebrants and ministers of religion to solemnise the same-sex marriage as it may conflict with their religious beliefs.

So, what are the changes the amendment of marriage act means to the Family Law System in Australia?

 1.       Legal recognition

From 9th December 2017, overseas same-sex marriages are recognised in Australia rendering them legal status immediately.

The same-sex couple needs to give a Notice of Intended Marriage a month prior. So, starting 9th January 2018, the same-sex union are solemnised.

2.       Separation and divorce

Before this change, a same-sex couple who married in another country was not able to divorce in Australia. Now, the amendment means, that they can divorce in Australia given after being separated for a minimum of 12 months.

3.       Property settlement

Since same-sex marriage was not legal earlier, the same-sex couple was recognised as being a de facto couple, which required to fulfil an array of legalities to claim property settlement. Such as alike de facto couple they needed to prove the duration of their relationship lasted 2 years, the significant contribution made by either of the partners to the relationship, if there’s any child of the relationship, a document of registration of their relationship from a referring state or territory etc.

Now, the property settlement between the same-sex couple will be less complicated requiring fewer legal formalities to meet.

The same-sex couple can decide whether they want to be in a de facto relationship or enter matrimony.

4.       Parenting rights

The family laws relating to parenting rights will mostly remain unaffected. Immediate family members other than parents, who have a reasonable interest in the well being and upbringing of the child can claim parenting rights too. The legal system may grant parenting rights to parents whether same-sex or heterosexual or others on the same ground, that they must be able to take loving care of children and act in the best interest of the child.

The same-sex married couple will have the equal rights and responsibilities under Australian family law system that a heterosexual married couple has.

Contact the family law experts in Melbourne who also address family law issues in the neighbourhood of Melbourne to have a clear understanding of what same-sex relationship legally entails.

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