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Can I Apply For A Divorce In Australia If I Was Married Overseas?

Australia’s multiculturalism is fundamental to the fabric of our society. With people coming from across the globe to make a home in Australia, questions relating to family law inevitably arise. With beautiful beaches on the Sunshine Coast and relatively laid-back city life in Brisbane, it’s no wonder people are flocking to our region! 

One common concern we have to contend with is: can I get a divorce in Australia if I wasn’t married here? Let’s get to the bottom of this increasingly common issue.

What is a valid marriage?

An overseas marriage is generally valid in Australia if it meets the following requirements:

  • The marriage is legally recognised in the country you were married in;
  • The marriage would be valid if it took place in Australia.

So, what does it take for a marriage to be valid in Australia? According to Australian law, a marriage must satisfy the following criteria:

  • You are only married to one person;
  • You are at least 18 years old;
  • Your spouse is not any of the following;
    • Grandparent or parent; 
    • Child or grandchild; 
    • Brother or sister.
  • You understand what a marriage is;
  • You freely agree to enter into the marriage.

If you meet those conditions, you are legally married in Australia. Once you’ve established that, how do you know if you can get divorced?

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Ending an overseas marriage in Australia

While Australia generally recognises an overseas marriage, the ability to end that marriage depends on additional criteria. According to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website, you can dissolve an overseas marriage in Australia if you or your spouse:

  • Regard Australia as your home and intend to live indefinitely in Australia are an Australian citizen or resident; or
  • Are an Australian citizen by birth or descent;
  • Are an Australian citizen by grant of an Australian citizenship;
  • Ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.

For Australian citizens or permanent residents, include a copy of your Australian passport, citizenship certificate or other proof of permanent residency with your divorce application. Those who are not a citizen or permanent resident but have been living in Australia for at least a year should provide evidence of their residency through a Visa Entitlement Verification Online check. 

Marriage certificate

If your marriage certificate is in a foreign language, you must attach a translation from an accredited translator. The translator must provide an Affidavit Translation of Marriage Certificate establishing their credentials. 

You must replace a lost marriage certificate with a copy from the relevant authority in the country where you received it. If you can’t obtain a copy, you may submit an affidavit explaining why to the Court. However, the Court will only accept divorce applications without a marriage certificate in special cases. 

Contact us today

If you wish to end an overseas marriage in Australia but are unsure about your legal standing, can help. Our team of family law experts a both our Brisbane and Sunshine Coast offices can walk you through your options for your peace of mind. 

Book a free initial consultation below. 

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