Same-Sex Marriage and How It Changes Family Law Proceedings

In December 2017, Australia became the 26th country to legalise same-sex nuptials with an amendment to the Marriage Act 1961 that redefined marriage as non-gender specific.

Since then, same-sex couples have been recognised as married under the Family Law Act 1975. This includes “pre-commencement” couples married overseas before the legislation changed.

In the short time since the amendment, our Perth family lawyers have caught up on the implications of the amendment so we can help couples understand their rights and responsibilities.

Marriage and Divorce

Second marriage

Some people who were married and later separated overseas may decide to remarry their new partner.

Under the Marriage Act, a second marriage is nullified if one of the parties to the second marriage was never formally divorced, regardless if they separated before Australia recognised the first marriage.

This means the second marriage will be treated as a de facto relationship instead of receiving the full marriage provisions under the Family Law Act.

Separation and divorce

Same-sex and different-sex couples now have equal access to the divorce system in Australia.

So long as a couple has been separated for more than 12 months (including before December 2017) and can demonstrate the marriage has “broken down irretrievably”, a Perth family law firm can help the couple work through the separation.

Property proceedings

Before the amendments, same-sex couples who separated could apply for property settlements providing they met the criteria for a de facto relationship.

With the change in 2017, same-sex couples who have married have the same legal protection as different-sex couples under the Family Law Act, including pre and post-nuptial Binding Financial Agreements.

For personalised advice and more information on how the Marriage Act amendments impact you, contact Leach Legal to arrange a free 15-minute consultation.

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