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Can Aussie couples really be ‘Married at First Sight’?

In a nutshell, the answer is ‘No’…. 

However, Channel 9’s reality show Married at First Sight has raised a multitude of interesting questions:

  • • Is it legal to marry a total stranger?
  • • How well and how long must a couple know each other before getting married?
  • • Are arranged marriages allowed in Australia?
  • • Can they get a quick divorce if the marriage doesn’t work out?

In Australia, couples must give written notice of their intention to marry. A Notice of Intended Marriage form must be completed 30 days before a wedding and given to an authorised celebrant to send to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages after the wedding.

The law does not require a couple to know each other well or prove that they have been in a relationship before they marry. So while it’s true that people may marry others they hardly know, they must at the very least, know their intended’s identity, age and marital status. The law does not require a married couple to love each other, live together or be faithful to each other.

The 30-day waiting period has been designed to provide people with the chance to contemplate whether or not they actually want to marry the other person.
Much of the controversy that was generated by Married at First Sight was likely generated by different views the Aussie population have towards marriage. While arranged marriages are still the norm in certain parts of the world, in Australia there is understandably still some cultural curiosity which in turn, contributed to the controversy.
Before filming commences, the participants in the televised weddings fill out a Notice of Intended Marriage. The weddings themselves are not legally binding, however, the parties may choose to marry when the 30-day period following the execution of the notice has elapsed.

So, are arranged marriages legal?

Marriages arranged by third parties are perfectly legal in Australia as long as the marriages meet the legal requirements for a valid marriage. For example, that both parties consent to the marriage and are both of legal age to marry.

Can couples get a quick divorce if it doesn’t work out?

The quick answer here is also ‘No’…

In Australia, a married person can only apply for a divorce once they have been separated for a year. If they are married for less than two years they must in most cases undergo counselling before a divorce will be granted.

It’s important to remember, while it is not against the law to rush into marriage, it is important for couples who do get married quickly to be aware of the potential risks.

Perdriau Family Lawyers are here to help you work through any family law issues, please contact us today.

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