Can you marry your second cousin in Australia?
Bronte Price • July 25, 2023
This week’s blog is written by our good friend Bronte Price who is a full-time marriage and funeral celebrant.
One of the questions people sometimes ask is who they can marry.
In Australia, you can marry almost anyone, but there are some limitations (see below). Most people who marry in Australia are in love with the person they wish to marry. Often, they will declare that love in front of their witnesses or guests. And
The short answer to the headline question is yes, you can marry your second cousin in Australia. Some people may be surprised that you can marry your first cousin!
In fact, it may shock many people that in Australia there are quite a number of your relatives whom it is legal for you to marry. I expect that some people simply cannot imagine being married to any relative. But the law says it’s ok to do so.
Here are some relatives you are allowed to marry in Australia:
- your aunt or uncle
- your niece or nephew
- your cousin – first cousin or second cousin etc
- your stepmother or stepfather (as long as they have never adopted you)
- your stepbrother or stepsister (as long as their parents have never adopted you).
Whilst there may be some people in Australia or elsewhere who may judge people who marry a relative, the law as it stands allows the relatives above to marry.
But the law is also clear about the people you are prohibited from marrying.
Here are some relatives you are not allowed to legally marry in Australia:
- your mother or father
- your adopted mother or father
- your brother or sister
- your adopted brother or sister
- your grandfather or grandmother
- your adopted grandfather or grandmother
- your son or daughter
- your adopted son or daughter
- your half-brother or half-sister.
If someone marries a person from this second list, then they are in breach of the law and may face stiff penalties. Each of these relationships is what the law calls “a prohibited relationship”. It is one of the responsibilities of a marriage celebrant to ask questions about this, particularly as they witness the couple signing the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage. The couple getting married must declare that they are not in a prohibited relationship and are free to marry each other.
If you or someone you know is contemplating getting married to someone from either of these lists, I’d suggest you see a family lawyer such as Jane Libbis or one of her colleagues, from Umbrella Family Law (https://umbrellafamilylaw.com.au/), to get some advice on what to do.
If you would like to read a detailed outline of the legal requirements to get married in Australia, please check out this blog: https://bronteprice.com.au/legal-marriage-requirements-australia/ – these requirements apply to everyone wishing to get married in Australia, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality and regardless of where you live, whether within Australia or outside Australia. Those couples who may wish to come to Australia on a visa can check out this blog, for extra information: https://gaycelebrant.melbourne/getting-married-australia-visa-same-sex-couples/
Australia remains one of the easiest and most flexible countries in which to get married. There are no requirements for you or your partner to have to live in Australia for a certain period of time, before you get married, for example. People from outside Australia can marry whilst visiting Australia on a tourist visa, for example. And members of the LGBTIQ+ community have the same legal rights, when it comes to marriage, as other members of the general population who wish to get married. As long as the legal processes are followed and the legal requirements (outlined in the blog above) are satisfied, then your marriage in Australia will be recognised as a legal marriage in those countries where marriage equality is observed.
Bronte Price (he, him) is a registered marriage celebrant, authorised to conduct marriages anywhere in Australia. He’s also a gay man and conducts marriages between all members of society. You can check out both his celebrancy websites here: https://gaycelebrant.melbourne/ and https://bronteprice.com.au/. Bronte is also a qualified trainer and has trained celebrants in past years. Besides being a marriage celebrant, Bronte conducts LGBTIQ+ inclusion training for workplaces and organisations, through The Equality Network (https://theequalitynetwork.com.au/), which he founded in 2016. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his husband Clint and their fur-baby, a rescue kelpie called Bingo.