• Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Separation

Overseas Marriages & Divorce in Australia

Bani MishraFebruary 5, 2024

Overseas Marriages & Divorce in Australia

With the expansion of technology, the internet, and the ease of international travel and migration, more than ever before love and relationships are not confined by proximity. Marriage now transcends borders, and it has become a common occurrence for parties to have destination weddings or for parties to migrate to Australia together as a married couple or as a family unit.

Unfortunately, when these marriages breakdown irretrievably the question of divorce arises and for those with overseas marriages, navigating the legal landscape in Australia can be a complex process. In this article we will explore the intricacies of overseas marriages and applications for divorce in Australia.

Overseas Marriages in Australia

Overseas marriages are generally recognised in Australia if they adhere to the laws of the country in which they occurred and provided that:

  1. The overseas marriage is recognised under the law of the country where the marriage took place;
  2. Both parties to the marriage are at least 18 years of age; and
  3. Neither party is married to another person at the time of marriage.

Applying for Divorce in Australia

For all applicants seeking to apply for divorce in Australia, certain criteria must be met:

  1. To be eligible at least one party to the marriage must be:
    1. born in Australia or have become an Australian citizen by descent; or
    2. an Australian citizen by grant of Australian citizenship; or
    3. lawfully present in Australia and intend to continue living in Australia. A party must have been living in Australia for at least 12 months before making an application for divorce.
  2. Grounds for Divorce: Australia operates on a no-fault divorce system, which means that couples do not need to provide reasons for their separation other than stating that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To prove this, the couple must have been separated for at least 12 months before applying for divorce.

Overseas Marriages & Divorce in Australia

As detailed above, Australia recognises most marriages that were legally conducted overseas, provided they adhere to the laws of that country. Therefore, a party to an overseas marriage can still apply for divorce in Australia if they meet the eligibility criteria. Part of the application process will involve proof of marriage, such as a marriage certificate, which if not in English will need to be translated into English.

There are circumstances in which applications for divorce involving overseas marriages become further complicated particularly where the parties may have had a religious ceremony however the marriage has not been formally registered. In those circumstances, further evidence will need to be provided to the Court to give details as to the validity of the marriage. Similarly, where a party cannot produce a marriage certificate, they should also provide further evidence as to the circumstances around the marriage.

Cultural and legal differences between countries can complicate the divorce process. These variations may affect the right of a party to seek a property division, spousal support, and child support. For example, in Australia once the divorce order is effective the parties have 12 months within which to make an application for property settlement and spousal maintenance. Similarly, divorce orders may trigger varying processes in differing jurisdictions. To overcome these complexities, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an Australian family lawyer prior to making application for divorce.

If you have any queries or need legal advice about your circumstances, please contact our team at Umbrella Family Law for a confidential discussion today.

At Umbrella Family Law we take pride in our holistic approach as we can provide you and your family with more than just legal advice by linking you with the supports you need. If you would like to learn more, please contact the team at Umbrella Family Law here.

For more information from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, click here.

Back to MainNext Article