Same-sex marriage is legal in Australia. Sex or gender no longer affects the right to marry under Australian law.
The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 amended the Marriage Act 1961 to redefine marriage as ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.
Defacto relationships and Aboriginal customary marriages are not recognised as legal marriages.
This information is for civil or religious marriages between two people. Defacto same-sex and heterosexual relationships have different legal requirements.
If your marriage is not recognised as being valid you may be able to apply for an annulment.
To officially end a marriage you can apply for a divorce. Same‑sex couples whose marriages are recognised can access Australia’s family law system (including divorce), regardless of when the marriage was solemnised. The divorces of same‑sex couples who divorced overseas before 9 December 2017 are also recognised in Australia.
When can I get married?
The legal age for marriage is 18 years. If you are between 16 and 18 years you can apply to the Family Court of Australia or the Magistrates Court for consent to marry if:
- your proposed spouse is 18 years or over.
- you have the consent of your parents or another relevant authority (unless the Court rules their consent is not needed).
- there are exceptional circumstances (eg if a Court agrees your situation is special enough to allow you to get married—pregnancy may not be enough).
The conditions for a valid marriage have not changed since the amendments to the Marriage Act began on 9 December 2017. Under Australian law, a couple must wait at least 1 month to marry after giving an authorised celebrant a completed Notice of Intended Marriage form. In certain situations, a couple can get permission from a prescribed authority to marry earlier.
When is marriage prohibited?
Marriage is prohibited:
- where either person is married and not divorced (bigamy).
- between brother and sister (including half relations).
- between a person and their ancestor (eg parent or grandparent).
- between a person and their descendant (eg child or grandchild).
For adopted children, the same rules apply to both the adopted and natural families.
Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.