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Today’s Question is on children as witnesses: Why can’t my underage children be witnesses to my marriage?

For that we have to go to section 44 of the Marriage Act.

If the children are under the age of 18 years they cannot sign the marriage certificate because, a marriage may not be solemnised unless at least two persons are present at the ceremony who are, or appear to the person solemnising the marriage to be, over the age of 18 years.

These two are the persons who will sign the marriage certificates in their capacity as the witnesses to the marriage. When completing the marriage certificates, the witnesses to the marriage should record their names in full, including any middle names.

So, if they are over the age of 18 years, and acting as either of the two witnesses, they may sign the certificate in that capacity but not if under 18, and no additional signatures are permitted (not even on the back of the certificate.)

 

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2 Comments

  1. If a witness was 17 at the time and signed the married certificate on the ceremonial day. What will be the outcome?

    1. The Marriage Act 1961 requires only that the two witnesses be, or “appear to be over 18” to the Celebrant.
      There is also a requirement that the celebrant must be satisfied that a proposed marriage will be valid at all times prior to the conclusion of the marriage ceremony.

      The Guidelines to the Marriage Act reveal in section 5.8 WITNESSES state:
      Under section 44 of the Marriage Act, a marriage may not be solemnised unless at least two persons are present at the ceremony who are, or appear to the person solemnising the marriage to be, over the age of 18 years. These are the people who will sign the marriage certificates in their capacity as the witnesses to the marriage. When completing the marriage certificates the witnesses to the marriage should record their names in full, including any middle names.
      The object of requiring the attendance of witnesses is that their evidence will be available to establish the identity of the parties or to testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed. It is therefore best practice (but not a requirement of the Marriage Act) that the witnesses know the parties to the marriage. Arranging for the attendance of witnesses at the marriage ceremony is the responsibility of the parties to the marriage. The celebrant is not responsible for providing witnesses.

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      So the outcome is, barring any other issues, that the marriage was legally solemnised.
      If you are however planning a wedding and know the planned witness is under 18 years of age, you should find another witness or wait for the witness to come of age.

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