QLD Married in Vanuatu - Marriage Certificate and Assistance with the Legalities?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Kristy Schneider, 13 March 2019.

  1. Kristy Schneider

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    Hi,

    My husband and I were married in Vanuatu 15 years ago. At a time when there was no Google. When I got back, I used our marriage certificate to change my name on everything to my married name. A few years later, when I went to change my passport I wasn’t able to as they would only accept a change of name form and didn’t recognise our Vanuatu marriage certificate.

    I am not able to complete an official change of name as I now don’t have enough ID in my maiden name. We thought one way around this as I need less ID is to get married in Australia however all of the marriage celebrants say we are unable to do this as we have already been married. We looked into it further and we are unsure whether or not our marriage was official in Vanuatu or how we go about finding out. My question is if we do get married in Australia and our Vanuatu wedding was legal what would be the repercussions? How else am I possibly able to change my name officially and on my passport?

    Thank you for your help
     
  2. Quinn & Scattini Lawyers

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    Hi Kristy, it does sound as if you are in a difficult situation!

    In order to answer your query you need to consider firstly whether your marriage which took place in Vanuatu 15 years ago is valid in Australia. The Marriage Act 1961 (Qld) provides that if a marriage is valid under the rules of the country where it took place, then it is usually recognised as valid in Australia. There are exceptions to this general rule i.e. both parties must be at least eighteen at the date of the marriage and not married to another person at the time.

    If your marriage in Vanuatu is valid, and it would seem likely that it is, you cannot marry in Australia as you are already legally married. If you did so you would be guilty of an offence (bigamy) that carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

    While you are unable to register your marriage in Australia your Marriage Certificate should be acceptable legal proof of your marriage. Given that the passport office appears to be refusing to recognise your Marriage Certificate, you may need to seek legal assistance.

    Kind regards,

    Shelley Johnson
    Lawyer – Family & De Facto Team
    Quinn & Scattini Lawyers
    1800 652 969
     
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