Marriage is defined by section 5 of the Marriage Act 1975 (Cth) as being the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. A marriage will satisfy that definition as long as it also meets the following criteria:

  • That you aren’t already married to someone else;
  • That you are not marrying a close relative;
  • That you are at least 18 years old;
  • That you enter into the marriage freely and willingly;
  • That you have given written notice of your intention to marry to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages; and
  • That the marriage ceremony is performed with specific wording by a registered marriage celebrant or authorised religious minister.

International marriages will be recognised by Australian law as long as they meet the criteria above. Same-sex marriages are not yet recognised in Australia even if the couple marry in a place where same sex marriage is permitted.

If a person under 18 wishes to marry, they will need court permission and usually their parents’ permission as well. Only one party to the marriage can be under 18.

Forcing someone to get married against their will is a crime in Australia, even if the person is taken overseas to have the marriage performed. A forced marriage occurs when one or both parties to the marriage are made to do so because they have been coerced, deceived, threatened or don’t understand the nature and effect of a marriage due to age, mental capacity or language barriers. If you believe that you need support or more information about a forced marriage, visit My Blue Sky at

Marriage can be a very important part of a person’s life and is recognised as a fundamental institution in society. If you and your partner are considering marriage, you can find a wealth of information and support in your community and online. There are a number of private and public services that offer pre-marital counselling across the Perth Metropolitan area.

For more information about the legal requirements for marriage, and where to find a registered marriage celebrant, visit the Attorney-General’s website here.

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