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Same Sex Marriage – What Does It Mean For Me And My Family?

The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 came into force on 9 December 2017. In practical terms how does the Act affect me?

Marriage

  • The most obvious benefit is that same sex couples can now apply to and get married effective 9 December 2017.
  • A 30 days-notice period is required and in some circumstances (e.g. life-threatening issues) the notice period may be waived.
  • You can also get married in an Australian Embassy.
  • If you were previously validly married overseas prior to 9 December 2017 your marriage will now be recognised under Australian Law.
  • Same Sex Marriages previously solemnised in Australia at foreign Embassies and Consulates (e.g. The United Kingdom Consulate in Perth) will also be recognised.

Children

  • No significant changes have occurred in relation to the Children of same sex marriages in terms of recognising same sex couples as parents or allocating parental responsibility.

Property, Superannuation and divorce.

  • Same sex married couples (married overseas or in Australia), having been separated for 12 months and living in Australia can divorce in Australia.
  • Same sex married couples married in Australia will have access to the Family Court to divide their property on separation.
  • Same sex married couples in Western Australia can split their superannuation in the event of separation- an option not open to de facto couples in Western Australia.

Equality before the Law

  • The recent legislative changes have greatly improved the rights of same sex couples in terms of marriage. However, the rights and recognition of same sex parents and their children are not the same as those of heterosexual married couples and the children of heterosexual marriages and de facto relationships. These issues are further complicated by state surrogacy laws and traditional assumptions in law re marriage and relationships. This is an area of the law that requires discussion, debate, and ultimately policy and legislative reform.
Kavanagh Lawyers is fortunate to have so many same sex clients. Our lawyers are highly experienced in dealing with the particular challenges that same-sex couples face regarding family law. If we can be of assistance, please contact us.