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What is the Marriageable Age in Australia?

A large section of the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants – July 2014, immediately after the section on ‘consent’ and running from pages 99 to 103, is the section on Marriageable Age.

I have included just a few short extracts here but if interested, let me know and I will send you the  full text in pages 99 to 103 of the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants – July 2014

Significantly, the Celebrant must always remember to carefully check the age of both parties on their birth certificates ensuring that:

  • at least one party is over 18, as two people under the age of 18 cannot marry under any circumstances.
  • the required court order and consents have been obtained by the party.

8.7 MARRIAGEABLE AGE IN AUSTRALIA

The marriageable age in Australia is 18 years for both males and females. (see Section 11 of the Marriage Act)

A person under the age of 16 cannot marry under any circumstances.

Two people under the age of 18 cannot marry under any circumstances.

It is an offence for a person to solemnise, or purport to solemnise, a marriage if the person has reason to believe that one or both of the parties are not of marriageable age.

The authorised celebrant must therefore carefully check the age of both parties from their birth certificates or extracts.

It is also an offence for a person to go through a form of ceremony of marriage with a person who is not of marriageable age. (see Section 95 of the Marriage Act)

For further information on offences, please refer to Part 11 of the Guidelines.

Where one of the parties to a marriage is not of marriageable age, the marriage is void unless the required orders and consents have been obtained (see pages 99 to 103 of the Guidelines).\

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8.8 The requirements for marriage of a minor – that is, when one party is aged 16-18 years

the minimum requirements

The two minimum requirements under which a person aged between 16 and 18 years may marry a person over the age of 18 are:

(i) a judge or magistrate has made an order authorising the person to marry a particular person of marriageable age (over 18 years), and

(ii) the required consents (usually parental) have been given to the marriage.

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How can an authorised celebrant ensure they are not marrying a couple when one party is not of marriageable age?

Authorised celebrants can take the following steps to ensure they are not solemnising a marriage where one party is not of marriageable age:

  • carefully check the age of both parties on their birth certificates
  • remember the Marriage Act does not permit, under any circumstances, a marriage where both parties are under marriageable age, and
  • only marry a couple where one party is aged 16 to 18 years if the required court order and consents have been obtained by the party.

 

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