Christmas comes early in Australia!
On 9th December Australia became the latest in a long line of countries to legalise same-sex marriage, following the passing of the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017. The first weddings under Australian law were held on 16 December 2017.
Prior to this Act, there had been no such national formal recognition of same-sex couples in Australia, for example through Civil Partnership.
This caused a major problem for nationals of England and Wales who had entered into a Civil Partnership or a same-sex marriage here, only to then emigrate to Australia and then separate from their husband/wife/civil partner. These people could not then obtain a formal declaration of the breakdown of their relationship in Australia.
I acted for a lady who found herself in these precise circumstances only two months ago. Without doing any research whatsoever I’d like to say I did the last dissolution of a civil partnership for an English ex-pat in Australia. I probably didn’t.
It was a sad story, in that this poor couple couldn’t apply for a dissolution in Australia because their own country didn’t recognise their relationship. Thankfully, they entered into their civil partnership in England and there was a solution to their plight.
The law states that:
“The court has jurisdiction other than under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Jurisdiction and Recognition of Judgments) Regulations 2014 or under the Civil Partnership (Jurisdiction and Recognition of Judgments) Regulations 2005 on the basis that no court has, or is recognised as having jurisdiction as set out in these regulations, and
The Petitioner and the Respondent registered as civil partners of each other in England and Wales or, in the case of a same-sex couple, married each other under the law of England and Wales and it would be in the interests of justice for the court to assume jurisdiction in this case.”
So in other words, where a couple marries or enter into a civil partnership in England and Wales and then move to a country which doesn’t recognise same-sex marriages or civil partnerships, they can still use the courts over here to formally end their relationship by divorce or dissolution.
The new law in Australia means that Australian citizens in same-sex marriages or civil partnerships will no longer need to resort to the courts of England and Wales to divorce or dissolve.
So what I’m getting at is that thankfully another law has been passed which means that a group of people don’t have to consider themselves as ‘special cases’ to get the same treatment as everybody else.