Main Content Anchor

Marriage

From 9 December 2017, sex or gender no longer affects the right to marry under Australian law and same-sex marriage is legal in Australia.

The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 amended the Marriage Act 1961 to redefine marriage as 'the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life'. Find out more about marriage equality in Australia.

Defacto relationships and Aboriginal customary marriages aren’t recognised as legal marriages.

This information is for civil or religious marriages between two people. Defacto same-sex and heterosexual relationships have different legal requirements. You should get legal advice.

Marriages are prohibited in some situations.

If your marriage isn’t recognised as being valid you may be able to apply for an annulment.

To officially end a marriage you can apply for a divorce. Same‑sex couples whose marriages are recognised can access Australia's family law system (including divorce), regardless of when the marriage was solemnised. The divorces of same‑sex couples who divorced overseas before 9 December 2017 are also recognised in Australia.

When can I get married?

The legal age for marriage is 18 years. If you’re between 16 and 18 years you can apply to the Family Court of Australia or the Magistrates Court for consent to marry if:

  • your proposed spouse is 18 years or over
  • you have the consent of your parents or another relevant authority (unless the court rules their consent is not needed)
  • there are exceptional circumstances (eg if a court agrees your situation is special enough to allow you to get married—pregnancy may not be enough).

Getting married

The conditions for a valid marriage have not changed since the amendments to the Marriage Act began on 9 December 2017.  Under Australian law, a couple must wait at least 1 month to marry after giving an authorised celebrant a completed Notice of Intended Marriage form. In certain situations, a couple can get permission from a prescribed authority to marry earlier.

More information is available on the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department website.

When is marriage prohibited?

Marriage is prohibited:

  • where either person is married and not divorced (bigamy)
  • between brother and sister (including half relations)
  • between a person and their ancestor (eg parent or grandparent)
  • between a person and their descendant (eg child or grandchild)

For adopted children, the same rules apply to both the adopted and natural families.

Acknowledgment: This information is prepared using National Legal Aid factsheets and the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department website

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you have concerns about whether your marriage is valid. You don’t need legal advice to get married.

Get legal advice

We may be able to give legal advice about whether a marriage is valid.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Community legal centres — give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society — can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages — get information and forms for getting married in Queensland, and information on how to get a marriage certificate.

Family Relationship Advice Line — gives information about the family law system in Australia.

Family Relationship Centres — give information, referrals, dispute resolution and advice on parenting after separation.

Family law courts — deal with family law cases. Court forms and information on family court processes are available online.

Related links and information
Back to top