Changes to Marriage Celebrants law and rules 2018

The Marriage Regulations 1963 were repealed on 1 April 2018 and have been replaced with the Marriage Regulations 2017, which commenced on 1 April 2018. A copy of the new regulations can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L01359. We would appreciate your assistance with advising your authorised celebrants of this change.

 The Marriage Regulations 2017 have simplified many of the requirements of the Marriage Regulations 1963. Obsolete or unnecessary provisions have been removed. The changes have also removed complex and outdated language and concepts. Please note the requirements for a valid marriage in Australia, including the form of ceremony used to solemnise a marriage, are contained in the MarriageAct 1961. These requirements have not changed.

 Marriage Law and Celebrants Section is in the process of preparing new Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for authorised celebrants, updated to include the new regulations and marriage equality. The new Guidelines will be published on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website, on the ‘celebrantresources’ page, in due course.

 Some specific requirements in the Marriage Regulations 2017 which we would like to draw to the attention of ministers of religion of recognised denominations are outlined below.

 Part 2 –Marriage of minors

The Marriage Regulations 2017 explicitly state that a person must not solemnise a marriage of a person under the age of 18 years unless they have been given an order from a Judge or magistrate authorising the marriage. Such an order is made under section 12 of the Marriage Act.

 The Marriage Regulations 2017 have also introduced a new requirement that translations of parental consents to a marriage of a minor must be prepared by a National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd (NAATI) accredited or recognised translator. This will enable Judges, magistrates, prescribed authorities and celebrants to have confidence that consents have been accurately translated.

 Part 3, Division1 (‘Ministers of religion’) and Division 3 (‘Marriages by authorised celebrants’)

 Part 3, Division 3contains some provisions dealing with record keeping obligations. These include:

  • As partof their record keeping obligations, ministers of religion are required to keep their Form 15 certificate record of use form for a period of six years from the last entry on the form. The details of each Form 15 certificate which must be recorded on the record of use form are the same as the details that were required under the Marriage Regulations 1963.
  • In relation to dealing with retained official certificates, a minister of religion who solemnises a marriage must ensure that:

(a)  if the marriage was solemnised in a church of the relevant religious body or religious organisation that is in a parish or other district in charge of a minister of religion of that organisation or body—the retained official certificate is added to the records of the parish or district; or

(b)  if the marriage was solemnised in a church of the relevant religious body or religious organisation that is not in a parish or district of the kind referred to in paragraph (a)—the retained official certificate is added to the records of the church; or

(c)  in any other case—the retained official certificate is added to the records of the relevant religious body or religious organisation.