MARRIAGES AND DIVORCES
9.56 Unlike the registration of births and deaths, the provisions for the registration of marriages and divorces are governed by Commonwealth Acts. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1959 and the Marriage Act 1961 replaced state and territory legislation and provided uniformity in the legislative basis for the registration of marriages and divorces.
9.57 The Matrimonial Causes Act was later replaced by the Family Law Act 1975. (Western Australia passed a State Family Law Act based on the Commonwealth Act). Although state and territory Registrars are responsible for the registration of marriages celebrated in their areas, the procedure of registration and the particulars required for registration are common to all.
9.58 Under the Marriage Act, marriages may be celebrated by a minister of religion registered as an authorised celebrant, by a state/territory Registrar, or by other persons authorised by the Attorney-General. Notice of the intended marriage must be given to the celebrant at least one month but not more than six months before the marriage. A celebrant is required to transmit within 14 days an official certificate of the marriage for registration to a district registrar in the state/territory in which the marriage took place.
9.59 The Marriage Act also introduced uniform minimum ages at marriage of 18 for males and 16 for females. Marriages of minors (for males aged 16 or 17 and for females aged 14 or 15) were allowed only if a judge or magistrate issued an order permitting the marriage. Further amendments to the Marriage Act in 1991 brought the minimum ages for females into line with those for males. They designated the minimum age at which persons are legally able to marry to be 18 years. Persons aged 16 and 17 years may marry a person aged 18 years or over with parental or guardian consent and an order from a judge or magistrate.
9.60 Divorce statistics are derived from legal records kept by the Family Court which administers the Family Law Act. Under the Family Law Act the concept of fault which was incorporated in the Matrimonial Causes Act and relevant previous state legislation was abandoned and only one ground of divorce is now recognised - irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. This is established under the law if the husband and wife are separated and have been living apart from each other for 12 months or more and there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation.