The vote is a YES … so what happens now? Our Principal Solicitor and Director Antonella Sanderson shares what the yes vote means for Family Law cases.
a. Legislation will need to be enacted to allow same-sex couples to register their marriage. This legislation will need to include a registration process for couples that have previously married in overseas jurisdictions that allow same-sex marriage.
b. This will mean same-sex couples who have previously married in overseas jurisdictions will be able to have their marriage recognised legally in Australia, and qualify to make an application for divorce if they have separated for 12 months or more.
c. This has long been the difficulty for same-sex couples who have married overseas and then return to Australia to find that they are unable to get a divorce if they break up, and often it is impossible to obtain a divorce in the country in which they were married.
d. This will mean that same-sex couples will have the right to marry, and the marriage certificate will be the incontrovertible evidence of their relationship. In the past there has been much litigation over the proof requirements for establishing a de facto relationship, where a marriage certificate gives us a date of certainty as to when the marriage began. Not only for Family Law reasons, but also for a variety of other legislative rights, a marriage certificate will make a big difference: such as medical treatment, superannuation rights, Centrelink rights, migration issues, and wills and estates.
e. From a Family Law perspective, the issue of parentage of children and child support entitlements for lesbian couples will need to be considered – current legislation requires proof of a relationship and consent for an artificial conception procedure before the non-birth mother can be recognised as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. Once a marriage occurs, thought will need to be given to whether these legislative provisions will need to be changed.
We welcome the yes vote and look forward to seeing how this changes the personal lives of our friends, family and colleagues in the LGBTI community.