Most of us are aware that recently Australia has voted 'YES' to same-sex marriage. This has been followed up by the passing of same-sex marriage laws. So now same-sex couples have the option to go through a wedding ceremony and have their marriage recognised according to family law as well as government bodies. It is interesting to consider how much of an impact these changes will have on Family Law and the process of divorce and separation in Australia.
Up until recently, all same-sex couples have had the same rights in Family Law as a de facto couple. Now that same-sex couples can legally be married in Australia, there will be some differences between same-sex couples that are married and those that are in a de facto relationship.
Same-sex couple divorce
Same-sex marriages will now comply with the same Family Law requirements as other marriages. The same rules will apply for separation or divorce.
- In order to apply for a divorce, you will have to have been separated for at least 12 months. This differs to the breakdown of a same-sex de facto relationship which has no requirements for a separation.
- If the marriage lasted for less than 2 years, you will need to prove to the Court that you have participated in counselling. So once you have been separated for 12 months and participated in counselling, you can proceed with an application for divorce.
- When a marriage breaks down, asset division can only occur at any time up to 1 year after a divorce certificate has been issued. On the other hand, in a de facto relationship, the couple must have agreed on asset division before the parties have been separated for two years.
We should expect to see many same-sex couples choosing to take the step to change their de facto relationship into a legal marriage. While there may not be very many significant changes for a same-sex couple who decide to get married from a family law perspective, it is likely that the reasons for the change would mostly come from a personal choice.
If you are in a same-sex relationship and are considering either marriage or separation, it is good to have an understanding of your legal rights according to family law. Understand your legal rights before you get married and before you decide to separate or divorce. If you are thinking about a separation or divorce and you would like some legal advice, contact our experienced Lawyers at Cairns Divorce Lawyers. Cairns Divorce Lawyers ph 4052 0700