Marriage according to Australian law, is "the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life". (Marriage Act 1961).
Married couples are expected to
- financially, emotionally and socially support each other and any children of their union to the best of their abilities
- uphold Australian national, state/territory laws, particularly those that relate to physical, sexual, emotional and other harassment and violence. ie non-consensual sex is not legal.
This applies in marriage to behaviour by either husband or wife; sexual behaviour with one's own children or step children or any child is not legal by either husband or wife; physical and/or emotional harassment or violence is not legal in marriage by either husband or wife.
- mutually agree to the arrangements they make in their living arrangements and the way decisions are made in their relationship and their relationships with their children.
ie Wives (Marriage Partners) are not required to "obey" husbands (Marriage Partners) , nor are husbands (Marriage Partners) required to "obey" wives (Marriage Partners) .
- uphold the civil and human rights of their marriage partner - freedom of movement, speech, association etc
ie a wife (marriage partner) and children are not the property of the husband (marriage partner) , likewise the husband (marriage partner) and children are not the property of the wife (marriage partner) .
- provide guidance, care and support for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of the children of their relationship.
Dissolution of marriage and divorce is available in Australia.
Divorce may be applied for after a period of 12 months separation.
All marriage celebrants
Whether religious or civil, all marriage celebrants are authorised under the Marriage Act of Australia and as such are required to perform certain duties on behalf of the Attorney General, including reminding couples intending to be married of the solemn, the serious and binding nature of the relationship into which they are about to enter.
The Australian Government on behalf of the Australian community requires all couples notifying intent to marry to be aware that:
- Marriage is an extremely important legally binding contract into which couples enter.
- Marriage has important family, social, financial, personal and other consequences.
- Couples are expected to financially, emotionally and socially support each other and any children of their union to the best of their abilities.
- Marriage does not give any individual any rights to ignore or break other laws, particularly those that relate to physical, sexual, emotional and other harassment and violence
- The Australian Government expects that couples will do whatever they can to:
i. build and maintain their relationships (eg relationship & parenting support)
ii. should difficulties arise, seek support services, such as child support services and counselling
- The Australian Government is concerned about
i. the social, financial and other costs of divorce, and
ii expects couples and the community to work towards reducing marriage breakdown and as a consequence, the levels of divorce in the community.
When you give Notice of Intent to Marry, your CCN celebrant will give you a copy of the Australian government's publication Happily Ever Before and After.