On 27 January 2012, Attorney General Nicola Roxon delivered a media release which stated that as of 1 February 2012 there were to be certificates of no known impediment to marriage issued for same sex couples.
“The important change will allow same sex couples to take part in overseas marriage ceremonies, and be considered married according to the laws of that country” said Attorney General Nicola Roxon.
Some countries require that a certificate of no known impediment be presented before they will legally marry a couple. These certificates confirm that there is no reason why the person taking part in the marriage ceremony overseas cannot get married. In particular, this means the person is over 18 years and not already married and the couple are not close relatives. Previously such certificates were only available to heterosexual couples.
However, this does not change the fact that in Australia, same sex couples cannot be legally married. This means that currently same sex couples can only be legally regarded as in a de facto relationship. Though, it does allow Australian same sex couples to more easily marry overseas.
Also the value of this change is arguable given that while same sex marriages may be more easily conducted overseas, they would still not be recognised within Australia. However an overseas marriage certificate may be evidence that there was a de facto relationship for the purposes of Commonwealth, State and Territory laws.
If you are looking for information regarding same sex marriages overseas and applying for a certificate of no known impediment, please see www.smarttravel.gov.au.
If you have further questions regarding your same sex de facto relationship, please do not hesitate to contact us at Armstrong Legal on (02) 9261 4555.