Section 48 of the Marriage Act (Australia)
and valid marriages
PHOBIAS AND PARANOIA (circular sent to celebrant friends)
I am deeply concerned that so many celebrants are developing phobias regarding the required paperwork, which needs to be done for weddings. Exactness is a good thing, paranoia is not. If you live in fear of getting into trouble the solution is simple. Get your paperwork / procedures checked by an experienced celebrant. Avoid phobia and paranoia - it will divert you from the main task of being a good celebrant.
It is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to officiate at an invalid marriage in Australia.
Section 48 of the Marriage Act states in the clearest terms.
• If there was no Notice of Intended Marriage at all - the marriage is still valid.
• If the Notice of Intended Marriage has false information - the marriage is still valid
• If you do not take the Declarations on the back of the Marriage Certificate - the marriage is still valid.
• If the celebrant does not receive or check the birth certificates or the Statutory Declarations - or if they contain false information - the marriage is still valid.
• If the parties are wrongly identified - the marriage is still valid.
• If an unauthorized person witnesses the signatures on the Notice - the marriage is still valid.
• If you donʼt have witnesses - the marriage is still valid.
• if the celebrant signs as celebrant and as a witness - the marriage is still valid.
• If you do not say the Monitum at all - the marriage is still valid.
• Even if the celebrant is not authorised (but the parties think she is) - the marriage is still valid.
All celebrants should be exact as possible (for a range of good reasons but not because they live in fear of making a marriage invalid. Donʼt accuse me of not advocating being as exact as possible or I will put the Irish curse on you !
In my 40 years as marriage celebrant I have only known one instance of when a celebrant was at fault in an invalid marriage. (The man declared himself divorced but the decree had not become absolute - so he was not really divorced (old law)). She got a rap over the knuckles and had to "redo" the marriage privately after the decree became absolute.
I repeat. The worst feature about the widespread paranoia is that it has made many pre- occupied with the law instead of the main task - being focused on the ceremony - the skill which were appointed as a celebrant to develop for Australia.
Here is the actual text of Section 48 of the Marriage Act - check it out for yourself
(2) A marriage is not invalid by reason of all or any of the following:
(a) failure to give the notice required by section 42, or a false statement, defect or error in such a notice;
(b) failure of the parties, or either of them, to make or subscribe a declaration as required by section 42, or a false statement, defect or error in such a declaration;
(c) failure to produce to the authorized celebrant a certificate or extract of an entry or a statutory declaration as required by section 42, or a false statement, defect or error in such a statutory declaration;
(d) failure to comply with any other requirement of section 42, or any contravention of that section;
(e) failure to comply with the requirements of section 44 or 46;
(f) failure to comply with the requirements of section 13.
(3) A marriage is not invalid by reason that the person solemnizing it was not authorized by this Act to do so, if either party to the marriage, at the time the marriage was solemnized, believed that that person was lawfully authorized to solemnize it, and in such a case the form and ceremony of the marriage shall be deemed to have been sufficient if they were such as to show an intention on the part of each of the parties to become thereby the lawfully wedded spouse of the other.
PS. The immediate words in blue above are the basis for interpreting "words to that effect" in the vows (section 45) for thirty years until the Registrar of 2003 declared otherwise. Makes sense does it not?
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