Witnessing the NOIM: how much information is required?

Lauren asks:

I got this question from my bride and I’m second guessing myself! ‘Went up to the police station on Sunday and got this signed, but I just wanted to check before I send you the original…in the qualification section, is it fine that it just says police officer? I only realised when looking at it later that there is no section for the witness’ name or identification number or anything, so hoping this is ok!’

In short, absolutely fine! Lauren’s bride is absolutely correct; there’s nowhere on the current NOIM for a witness to a party’s signature to write their name or identification number. All it asks for is their qualification, and I simply want to see a qualification that matches one that’s in the list of authorised witnesses below the signature boxes.

I often get asked this question in relation to stamps as well, particularly with JPs and police officers; is it okay if the witness doesn’t stamp the NOIM? Again, absolutely fine. I can find no mention in the Marriage Act or the Marriage Regulations or the Guidelines of requiring a stamp to prove their authority to witness the signatures on the NOIM. All that’s required is that they sign it, date it, and write their occupation in the box 🙂

Passports: how old is too old?

Sean asks:

I know expired passports are okay, as long as they haven’t been cancelled but is there a time limit on that? This one expired in 2012

There are two ways a party can use a passport when they’re getting married: as proof of their date and place of birth, and as proof of their identity. So what are rules around expired and cancelled passports and the age of these documents?

Date and place of birth

A person’s date and place of birth will never change, so we can accept an expired passport that is 40, 60, 80 years old for this function. No problems how old it is. However…

Identity

What a person looks like changes dramatically throughout their life (as if I had to tell you that!) So for satisfying us as to their identity, the age of the passport matters very much. The current guidance (as per the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018, p52) is that:

An expired Australian passport that has not been expired for over 10 years can be used to determine the identity of a person [emphasis added].

However, the age of the passport is not the only deciding factor here. Sure, the passport might have been expired for less than 10 years, but it might also have been issued to the party when they were five years old; a child’s passport lasts for five years so it expired when they were 10, and they’re now 19 so it’s been expired for less than 10 years. But does the photo on the passport actually look like the person sitting in front of you? The Guidelines say in this regard:

An expired passport that belonged to a child may not be useful to determine the identity of an adult (even if it has been expired for less than ten years).

So yes, we can accept a passport that has been expired for up to 10 years, as long as the picture on it looks enough like the person sitting in front of us that it satisfies us as to their identity.

Clear as mud, right?

A massive change to how marriage celebrants can sight ID

For the past six months I have been pursuing a line of inquiry with the Attorney-General’s office Marriage Celebrants Section over the line in the Guidelines section 4.4.2:

It is not acceptable for a celebrant to accept a NOIM and/or supporting documents via videoconferencing services such as Skype. Actual documentation must be received by the celebrant.

That line is from the Guidelines to the Marriage Act, not the actual Marriage Act. But even if it was, there is another piece of legislation called the Electronic Transactions Act that allows for the following:

If a Commonwealth law requires you to give information in writing, provide a handwritten signature, produce a document in material form the Electronic Transactions Act means you can do these things electronically.

So I’ve pursued this with the Attorney-General’s office and received the following instruction today:

The Act does not prescribe how a celebrant is to satisfy themselves that the parties signing the NOIM are who they say they are. If a celebrant is satisfied as to a party’s identity using video conferencing media, then this is not inconsistent with the Act. A celebrant should ensure that evidence provided to establish date and place of birth can be reconciled to the identity of a party. For instance, if a party produced by email their birth certificate to the celebrant as evidence of their place and date of birth, the celebrant should reconcile that evidence against a photographic identity document to confirm identity. This might be achieved by a video conferencing call whereby the party presented their birth certificate and also a driving licence to the celebrant by showing it up to the camera during the video conferencing call.

Further to that point, I felt relieved to also read the following:

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for authorised celebrants is issued to assist celebrants to comply with the Marriage Act and Regulations. Ultimately it is up to the celebrant to comply with all of the requirements of the Act. I appreciate that some of the language used in the Guidelines is of a directive nature, rather than of best practice nature. I will undertake to review and amend the Guidelines, where appropriate, regarding the matter you have raised to ensure the language is best practice rather directive.

I’ll let you use your best judgement on ID and the Guidelines into the future.

What’s the go with overseas weddings

Anka asks

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of celebrants on Facebook have started advertising that they can do weddings overseas?? I didn’t think we could? Im presuming they might be just completing paperwork at the airport before they depart? Or did u miss something

Hi Anka, this is a question I personally field often and I’m glad I get to address it on the Celebrant Institute today.

Under what authority?

The Attorney-General’s office has the authority to appoint marriage celebrants according to Australian law. That law and authority is only valid in Australia. So when an Australian authorised marriage celebrant leaves Australia and enters another country they no longer carry the authority they did in Australia, and they are subject to that country’s laws – marriage and otherwise. In simple terms, Australian marriage celebrants in New Zealand lose the title “marriage celebrant” whilst retaining the title “Australian”. Outside of Australia you are not a celebrant. That’s why celebrants cannot witness notices of intent overseas.

So if you see myself or others performing ceremonies overseas, we are subject to the laws in that country. In that country, if we have the authority to marry we may well be, and if we are not then in a technical sense it’s not a legal marriage ceremony.

I personally at the time of writing this article have the authority to marry people according to the law in Australia, the USA, and British Columbia, Canada.

If you see me in any other country, the couple are not getting married-married, just married, in their hearts.

Even with the opportunity to legally marry in Canada and the USA many of my couples choose to still take the Australian paperwork route just so it’s free to change names and get new passports and drivers licenses.

So how do people get married-married?

In each country around the globe the people getting married have the responsibility to seek the best route for themselves. Some people value the ease of paperwork an Australian marriage ceremony presents an Australian couple so before or after the international ceremony we’ll go through the required steps on Australian soil. Others value the date on their marriage certificate being the date they exchanged vows, so it’s up to them to figure that out.

Isn’t this weird?

I know that for many of our European it’s very common for the celebrant to have no actual legal authority so the couple will visit the marriage office in the days before their wedding, or even on the morning, and solemnise it there. (Do I get 10 points for using solemnise in a sentence?)

For many Australian couples who would like a friend to marry them I perform a similar service.

The business end of the deal

You’ll meet very few wedding vendors who have made a successful life, financially and socially, from being a destination wedding vendor. I’m lucky that Britt’s a bigger traveller than me and Luna, well Luna has no choice. So we love travelling the globe and we build our international wedding schedule around our own hopes. I’m sure most reading this would like to travel as well, so I wish you the best of luck, it’s not easy living with the word ‘destination’ in your bio, if only because everyone else has it there too. My advice would be to focus on your local market and take the destination work that suits you and your family.

Interpreters and translators

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Sarita asks:

We’re away at the moment and then the couple in question head away as we get back – so the NOIM will be getting lodged in Jan, with a day to spare.  


The bride is from China and all her ID is in Chinese. 


As long as I tell them to get the passport, (birth certificate) & drivers license/ID card interpreted by a NAATI registered interpreter – is that all ok?  


Just wanted to check I’m not missing anything as it’s my first time doing a marriage that will involve an interpreter. 


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When to provide documentation to couples

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Peter asks:

By when in the process must we have given the required documents to the couple?

I have been giving the required documents (happily ever…, code of practice, complaint info, etc.) with the engagement letter / quote, however, often I only have an email address at this stage for one party, not both. As I understand it, this doesn’t satisfy the requirements of the act (giving happily ever… effectively to only one party).

Upon booking, that’s when I get my now clients to give me their complete contact information. I’ve trialed different methods of getting complete contact info on enquiry but nothing has really been effective.

I’m trying to optimise my systems and I don’t want to send more emails in my workflow than I have to, so I was wondering can I send this info at the point of our planning meeting (circa 4 months out) as part of an email that already sits in my workflow rather than at the point of booking?


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Signing two Official Certificates of Marriage electronically

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Alison asks:

This might be more of a Josh question because it’s about electronic paperwork – or maybe it is for Sarah because of the legal side. I’m performing my very first ceremony tomorrow (hooray!) and I’ve received permission from the ACT BDM to accept electronic signatures and to submit the paperwork by email. I’ve watched Josh’s video for how to sign the marriage paperwork on an iPad and I’m all set to go.

My question is, since I have the electronic paperwork, do I need everyone to sign TWO official marriage certificates (plus the Form 15) after the ceremony, or just the one connected to the DONLIM since I am sending electronically and will retain the digital copy. I can’t see any reason to sign two copies of the same digital document, except for the fact the Marriage Act 50(1)(b) says: Where an authorised celebrant solemnises a marriage, the authorised celebrant shall: prepare 2 official certificates of the marriage.


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Sighting identity documentation

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Precious asks:

I have a couple that I’ve met but they forgot to bring their ID when they signed the NOIM. One of them is available tomorrow to come round with both of their ID, but do I need to see both of them at the same time I see their ID, or can I see partner A and both partner A and Bs ID then? 


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Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.


Lodging marriage paperwork electronically

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A celebrant asks:

Hey there.. a question – I’ve just registered to submit ceremonies online in NSW (I am in Vic). In reading the manual, I discovered you can scan/lodge all official documents ONLINE once the ceremony is over and that’s that. I emailed them to ask if that was for real – we don’t need to mail the official docs in? They emailed back that is correct and we just file the documents.

Now – that’s not what the Act says. Hmmmmm. I don’t want to be responsible for holding the originals. I asked a few celebrants who all say they send the docs in as well. One celebrant said he rocked up to NSW BDM to hand the documents in and they flatly refused to take them from him, saying once they are uploaded online there is no need for the BDM to have them.

So I guess they are binning / destroying all the original docs people are sending them, if those same docs have been uploaded online.

I am dying to know: what do you two do when registering a marriage in NSW then uploading the documents? Do you send/destroy/keep the originals?


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Different signatures by parties

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A celebrant asks:

I have received a Notice of Errors in documentation email from BDM. They have requested the bride provides a stat dec indicating why her signature on the NOIM and Marriage Certificate are different. Is there wording we can provide on the stat dec to assist completion? Can we provide a scanned copy of the stat dec to BDM (or do they need to sight originals)


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Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.


Witness signatures, or the one in which Josh and Sarah disagree…

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Sometimes (often?) Josh and I disagree on the answer to a question. This was one such time…

Bree asked:

I have a grandparent as a witness this coming Saturday who has a very shaky hand and is apparently really nervous about the signing duties. The poor darling! They are adamant they want him as a witness. Any tips on how to beat / manage this? I think he is worried about people watching him… would it be ok to get him to just sign one document while everyone is watching but then the other two after? Appreciate your advice!


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Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.


When a party’s recorded sex is different from their gender identity

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A celebrant asks:

The groom was born female, and identifies as male. He is male on his passport (that’s the doc I saw for ID purposes), but he’s just asked me if it poses any problems that his birth certificate lists him as ‘female’. I said no, because the changes to the rules have allowed for him to identify as male, so no dramas at all. However, my question is do I need to write a note of explanation in the ‘Additional Information to BDM’ section online? I know they sometimes cross reference with birth certificates and I don’t want to put the groom to any trouble by having to justify his gender. (I’d prefer not to make an issue of it by raising it if I don’t have to, but I know BDM can sometimes be a bit heavy-handed and insensitive).


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Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.


Signing and transferring a NOIM

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A celebrant asks:

When I first enrolled in my course, my Dad asked if I’d solemnise his wedding in December 2018. Of course I said I’d be thrilled if I passed and got authorised. I’ve now completed my Cert IV and applied for registration.

My dad and his fiancée are adamant they want me to do the ceremony (even if it means delaying the proposed December 8 ceremony), so I’ve asked a celebrant who lives near me to accept the NOIM, so it’s easier to transfer it to once I’m registered. My friend has only been a celebrant for a year, so he’s never done a transfer or interstate NOIM. I want to make sure I have all the steps correct. 

Adding to the complication is that my dad and his fiancée are currently living in different states due to work. Can you tell me if I have all the following steps correct:

1. Party 1 fills in the NOIM and has it signed by a police officer (or other authorised witness)

2. Party 1 posts the physical NOIM to Party 2, and scans or posts photocopies of supporting documentation (in this case an Australian passport)

3. Party 2 fills in the NOIM and has it signed by a police officer (or other authorised witness)

4. Party 2 emails a copy of the NOIM along with scans of all supporting documentation (ie both passports) to Celebrant 1 (my friend) in order to make the deadline

5. Party 2 posts the physical copy of the NOIM to Celebrant 1 via registered post

6. Once Celebrant 2 (me) is registered, Celebrant 1 transfers the NOIM, and makes the appropriate marks on the NOIM

7. Celebrant 2 must bring the physical NOIM to the wedding and witness the supporting documentation (passports) before the ceremony commences

Is that right? Does Celebrant 1 have to witness the physical passports as well? I’m guessing that even though the ACT is accepting scans of documents at the moment (according to what you said on your podcast), because of the need to transfer the NOIM around there will need to be a physical copy.

Also how do you transfer a NOIM? It doesn’t seem to specify exactly what you need to do in the Guidelines. I saw you mentioned that the proposed new NOIM has a spot specifically for this, but in the meantime, could you maybe post an example on the CI? Does it need a covering letter? 

What about other changes, like a date or venue change? Or is this filled in just before the ceremony? To be honest, I’m also a little confused about when the celebrant is meant to fill in certain sections on the NOIM, because all the exercises in the Cert IV was about handing in the fully completed paperwork.


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Cost to register a marriage?

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A celebrant asks:

Does each state charge different fees to submit completed marriage docs? 

I’ve got weddings in NSW, SA and VIC coming up and I can’t find any details on costs associated with registering the paperwork? 


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Sighting identity documents from parties living interstate or overseas

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A celebrant asks:

I have a question about sighting ID when the Celebrant and marrying couple are in different states. 

I have a number of family and friends in other states that have asked me to perform their ceremonies for them, which is super exciting. The question I have is, how do you manage the sighting of the ID in these cases? 

What do you guys do in this instance? 


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Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.


Documents translated by overseas services

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Alice asks:

I’m lodging a NOIM for a couple where the bride is Japanese. She has a passport (which is in English), but Japanese passports do not include place of birth, so I’ll also have to use her birth certificate (which is in Japanese). She already has a translation of her birth certificate from the American Translator’s Association from 2016. Does she need to get another from a NAATI-accredited translator or will her ATA translation suffice? 

The guidelines state that “The Marriage Regulations do not require translations to be provided by an accredited translator, except where a person consenting to a minor’s marriage gives a consent that is not in English” but they also state “When a party to a marriage produces a document in a language other than English, the celebrant (even if they can read and write in that language) should ask the couple to seek an official NAATI certified translation of the document.” 


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Correcting errors on the NOIM

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Bree asks:

Some of my parties have completed their NOIMs ready for our meeting and for me to witness. I have noticed as I have gone to log them into BDM that there are certain things I am concerned about as follows:


– Use of blue pen for signatures
– Using ‘JAN’ and ‘FEB’ in birthdates instead of ’01’ and ’02’
– The selection boxes that we normally mark X are not in one of the printed NOIMs, so they have circled the word instead e.g. Groom / Bride / Partner

And then one error of my own, COMPLETELY the wrong date under my witness signature – just the first number. Can I cross out and write the correct number above, or will this not be accepted?


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Changing first (or middle) names after marriage

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Klara asks:

I have a couple where one of them wants to change their first name (well, actually drop their first name and take on their middle name) and wondering if this can be done using the marriage certificate or if they’ll need to apply separately to BDM for this bit?


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New draft NOIM. Sarah’s thoughts

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Hopefully all registered celebrants received an email from the Attorney General’s Department on 27 September 2018, inviting feedback on a new version of the Notice of Intended Marriage.


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Evidence required for a change of name by marriage

A celebrant asks:

Groom previously married - all documents are satisfactory. Bride previously married - Has returned to her maiden name. Provides Passport in maiden name & Driver's Licence in maiden name but divorce papers are in married name. Is a stat dec required?

The simple answer to the question here is that no, a stat dec is not required. But the chain of evidence that we should see is a bit more complex than most celebrants realise.

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Change of name and identity documents

Sean asks:

Bride has officially changed her name. Has new birth certificate with new name on it. Her passport still has her old name on it. Can I accept her passport as photo ID for completion of NOIM?

I’ve written before about what to do if the names differ on the documents used for date and place of birth (e.g. birth certificate) and for proof of identity (e.g. driver’s licence). However in the previous post, the party had changed her name by usage (and therefore had a driver’s licence in her new name) but never bothered to change it formally (so didn’t have a birth certificate in her new name). This situation is the other way around. 

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Dissolving a registered relationship

Charis asks:

My client has registered a relationship. She was never married but registered a relationship with BDM. They told her she could not get married until this is cancelled by them. Do I record this info anywhere? She has never been validly married so I feel as though she write that on the NOIM and then I record the info about her registered relationship on page four?

This is an issue that gets far more attention from celebrants than it deserves, mainly because the people on the phones at BDM usually don’t know what they’re talking about. Let me explain.

Read More

What it’s like to be deregistrated

351 Australian marriage celebrants were deregistrated this week because they “did not pay the celebrant registration charge“ and here are the three letters they received after their initial invoice:

Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2018 12:07:09 +1000
Subject: Annual Celebrant Registration Charge Notice –Reminder
Dear Marriage Celebrant

Our records show that you have not paid your annual celebrant registration charge of $240 for 2018-2019. Your payment is now past the invoice due date. Please pay this invoice by 31 August 2018.

What is the consequence if I do not pay?

If you do not pay your annual celebrant registration charge by the charge payment day of 31 August 2018, then under section 39FB of the Marriage Act 1961 you will be deregistered. There is no discretion to accept payments after the charge payment day.

What if I haven’t received my invoice?

You should contact us immediately.

What if I have already paid?

If you believe you have paid the annual celebrant registration charge and have not yet received a receipt, please email us with a copy of your bank statement showing the payment being debited from your account. This information will help us identify and reconcile your payment.

It may take up to 3-5 business days to reconcile payments. If you have recently paid your invoice and have still not received a receipt within 3-5 business days you should follow up with the department.

What if I want to resign?

If you do not intend on paying the celebrant registration charge as you intend to resign before the charge payment day, you should advise the department of your intention to resign and you will be exempted from the liability to pay the charge.

The form for resigning as a marriage celebrant is available here.

Can I apply for an exemption from the charge?

Applications for exemption from the charge closed on 23 July 2018. It is no longer possible to seek an exemption from payment.

Updated Website

Information to assist you to make your payment is available on our website under ‘Celebrant Resources’ at www.ag.gov.au/marriage. This includes details on how to access your self‑service portal to pay your invoice.

Regards, Marriage Law and Celebrants Section

That reminder email was ignored because the celebrant thought the invoice was paid. Which led to this email:

Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2018

Notice in relation to deregistration

Our records indicate that you did not pay the celebrant registration charge (the charge) by the charge payment day of 31 August 2018.

If you believe you have paid the charge or that you have no liability (you are liable to pay the celebrant registration charge if you are a marriage celebrant on 1 July of the financial year, or become a celebrant later in the financial year, and have not been granted an exemption from the charge) to pay the charge please immediately contact the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section on 1800 550 343. You should be ready to provide evidence in the form of a bank statement which identifies the bank, the date the payment was made and the description used. Once evidence is received we will pursue this with our Accounts Section.

I am writing to advise that, because of your non-payment of the charge, you will be deregistered as a marriage celebrant under section 39FB of the Marriage Act 1961 (the Act).

You will be deregistered as a marriage celebrant after 2 October 2018.

Effect of deregistration

As a result of your deregistration you will not be legally authorised to solemnise any marriages. I will deregister you as a marriage celebrant by removing your details from the register of marriage celebrants, as soon as practicable after 2 October 2018. You must not solemnise any marriages on and from 3 October 2018.

If you have existing marriage bookings to solemnise marriages on or after this date, you should transfer these by transferring the Notice of Intended Marriage form, to another authorised celebrant after discussion with the couple.

It is an offence under section 101 of the Act for a person to solemnise a marriage when they are not authorised to do so. If the department becomes aware that you may have solemnised a marriage when you are not legally authorised to do so, the matter may be referred to the Australian Federal Police.

I will be notifying all state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages (BDMs) once your deregistration has taken effect.

Right to seek a review of this decision

You have the right under section 39J of the Act to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of this decision. Further information about the AAT’s application process can be found on its website at www.aat.gov.au.

Enclosed with this letter is a factsheet containing further information about seeking AAT review for non‑payment of the celebrant registration charge.

As noted in the factsheet, you may wish to seek independent legal advice before approaching the AAT. The Australian Government funds a range of legal assistance services that may be able to assist you, including legal aid commissions and individual community legal centres (CLCs), which offer free and low cost legal advice. Information to assist with finding legal services is available at www.ag.gov.au/LegalSystem/Legalaidprogrammes/Pages/default.aspx.

Marriage stationery and records

If you have any unused marriage stationery please ensure that you dispose of it safely. Please refer to the ‘Changes to marriage forms and certificates’ factsheet for information on validity of marriage forms. Particular care must be taken with any unused Form 15 certificates of marriage (the certificate of marriage that is given to the couple on the day) in your possession. They should either be destroyed, provided or sold to another authorised marriage celebrant but must not pass into the possession of an unauthorised person.

How you choose to dispose of any unused certificates of marriage should be noted on your record of use form. If you provide or sell the certificates to another marriage celebrant, please make a note of the celebrant’s name and authorisation number as well as the number of each Form 15 certificate you provide them. If you choose to destroy the certificates please make note of the number of each Form 15 certificate and mark that certificate as destroyed.

As part of your record-keeping obligations you are required to keep any Form 15 certificate record of use form for a period of six years from the last entry on the form.

You are also required to keep any completed official certificates of marriage for a period of six years from the date of the marriage.

While I understand your deregistration may be disappointing, I encourage you to comply with these record keeping obligations.

Yours sincerely, Bridget Quayle, Registrar of Marriage Celebrants

Followed by this email:

Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2018

Deregistration as a Marriage Celebrant

On 10 September 2018, I wrote to you advising of my intention to deregister you as a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant due to non-payment of the 2018-2019 celebrant registration charge.

This letter confirms that on 3 October 2018 you were removed from the register of marriage celebrants in accordance with section 39FB of the Marriage Act 1961.

This means that you are not authorised to solemnise any marriages. If you have not already done so, you should transfer any future marriage bookings to an authorised celebrant after discussion with the couple.

Section 101 of the Marriage Act makes it an offence for a person to solemnise a marriage when they are not authorised to do so. The penalty for an offence under section 101 is a $1,050 fine or imprisonment for 6 months.

I have notified state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages of your deregistration.

You should also refer to my previous letter and familiarise yourself with your record keeping obligations and how to appropriately dispose of unused marriage stationery.

As previously advised, you have a right to seek review of this decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). There are statutory time limits for applying to the AAT. The date of the decision to deregister you as a marriage celebrant was 10 September 2018. Further information about the deadlines for lodging an application can be found on the AAT website or by calling 1800 228 333.

Enclosed with this letter is a factsheet containing further information about seeking AAT review for non payment of the celebrant registration charge. You may wish to seek legal advice prior to applying for review in the AAT.

If you wish to reapply to become a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant, you will need to meet the current requirements for registration, including to: hold a Certificate IV in Celebrancy qualification and pay the application fee of $600. For further information about the application process please see: www.ag.gov.au/marriage.

Yours sincerely, Bridget Quayle, Registrar of Marriage Celebrants

Sarah and I discuss the 2018 deregistration event in the most recent podcast episode.

If you take issue with the lack of reminders and the abruptness of the deregistration, the only course of action you can take is to talk to your local member of parliament. This is the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants doing their job as public servants enacting the law as the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section of the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department requires them.

Don’t call or email the AGD, or a BDM, talk to your local federal MP.

Uploading documents to NSW BDM from a Mac

A little tip for celebrants using the NSW Lifelink system.

I tweeted at the NSW Justice Department decrying their developers of not allowing Mac users to upload documents into Lifelink and one of their staff wrote me back with this little tip. 

Don’t worry, I’ve let them know that this is a silly bug, but I bet most of us didn’t know the fix was this easy.


From the NSW BDM:

If the save button does not appear to be functioning when attaching a document in eRegistry, simply refresh your page and then add the documents for uploading.

Select your image to attached, the press Command R if you are using a Mac. If may be necessary to add the documents again after refreshing your page.

Attaching documents in eRegistry

After you have completed your notification and you are ready to upload, attach scans of your documents to the record. Documents must be in jpg or pdf format.
View the record.
Select Add documents from the Action List and press go.

If the save button does not appear to be functioning when attaching a document in eRegistry, simply refresh your page and then add the documents for uploading.

Select your image to attached, then press Ctrl + F5 to refresh your page if you are using a PC, or Command R if you are using a Mac. If may be necessary to add the documents again after refreshing your page.

Sighting original documents

Josh asks:

What is your best understanding of original forms of ID like passports, birth certificates, and drivers licenses being "sighted by the celebrant before the marriage is solemnised"?

Can we receive a scan, or sight them over video chat, or must we the celebrant be standing in the same room as the passports for them to be "sighted"?

We must be in the same room. No ifs, no buts.

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Co-delivering a marriage ceremony

Josh asks:

I have a celebrant mate of mine whose registration is pending with the AG’s office. But, she has a friend’s wedding coming up towards the end of September, which is the reason why she completed the course. I initially completed the NOIM for her and kept the date in September free (just in case), but what would you recommend I do to help from here? Should I just hang tight and wait for the AG or can I take care of the legals and have the other celebrant deliver the ceremony (other than the legal elements of course)? Also how would this work if the other celebrant has spent the time getting to know the couple and I have simply helped in a legal capacity? 

It's definitely possible for an authorised celebrant to manage the legalities of the ceremony while another person (whether a pending celebrant or a friend of the couple) delivers the "ceremonial" aspects of the ceremony. 

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Names on the NOIM: legal change of name

Veronica asks:

I have a couple that had a commitment ceremony four years ago and legally changed their names, and are now wanting to get married. What names should I use on the paperwork? What's on their birth certificate?

In a word, no. When a person changes their name legally, they forfeit the right to use the name on their original birth certificate. How this happens is a little more complex than that though...

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Doing deals with other vendors

Pete asks:

I have a question about the legalities of commercial arrangements with third parties given that as a Celebrant we’re government officers and our duty to avoid potential conflicts.

Just about everyone has a people we love section on their website, but, there’s obviously a line somewhere between [accepting a commercial discount on product/services for repeat business and independently giving a genuine recommendation to my clients] and [entering into commercial arrangements for non-commercial discounts / free products as a quid-pro-quo for implied or explicit endorsement & referrals].

I guess I’m just wondering where that line is as I’m currently faced with two potential arrangements – one in my gut I feel is ok, the other in my gut I think is not ok.

The one I think is ok: Is with a sound and lighting hire company who I’ve been hiring and buying sound gear from for over 15 odd years. When I’m booked to be the sound-man for a reception, I hire the big PA & lighting gear from them. I also bought half the components for my ceremony PA from them and do all of my servicing through them. So, they’ve offered me a discount of 25% on hire products for being a great repeat customer who always returns the gear in perfect condition, etc. etc. etc. and this is a discount that they offer to other great customers (i.e. it’s a “commercial discount”). I’m quite open with anyone who asks where I hire and buy my sound gear from because they offer great service, the gear is well maintained and high end, etc. etc. etc. and importantly it’s a genuine recommendation if anyone asks me where I think is the best place to get sound and lighting gear in Brisbane. Why I think this is ok is because it’s a commercial discount that I’ve been offered, the discount is based on being a good repeat customer, etc. rather than a quid-pro-quo, etc. etc. etc. and finally, as the hire is an expense that I pass on to my clients, it’s actually my clients that benefit from this discount, not me.

The one I think is not ok: Is a proposition from a contact that I was a client of, who just left his previous suit shop that does hire and sales to go out and do his own thing. He’s offered to figure out an arrangement where I hire suits from him on a rotating basis so that in effect I’m pretty much wearing a new suit for each wedding I do. He is currently on my “people I love list” based on the exceptional service I received as a client of his, but I’m getting the feeling that he’d like me to include something like an “I’m dressed by @company” to all of my social posts. The first thing that I think might be inappropriate is that while I delt with this person (I bought, and my groomsmen hired the suits from my wedding from this particular person) and he was my sole contact there (and frankly he was carrying that business) our transaction happened while he was working for another company for which he no longer works and I’m a client of ‘company x’ not a client of the contact. Finally, to me, I feel like it’s much more of an endorsement type arrangements as there’s a quid-pro-quo involved because I’m getting something (suits) at a non-commercial discount and he’s getting something (endorsement & social media props) rather than a genuine testimonial. So obviously, given that I’m iffy on it I’m not going to take him up on the offer, but it sparked a thought for me of “where is the line?”. I’m also really interested as to what the literature says about these kinds of things as obviously if the agreement was struck on a commercial basis that was appropriate this is something I’d love to take advantage of so that I’m not recycling the same 5 suits over and over again.

Do you think this would this be ok? If I were to pay a recurring “subscription type” fee to him that on an annual basis would be similar to what my annual expenditure on suits would be with some premium for things like increased dry-cleaning costs, etc. I openly say that “I get my suits from ‘company’ who I like and I’m treated well by” if I’m asked and if one of his suits is in a social post, the company is tagged – as I would with any other supplier. I’m still not a 100% on something like this, but it doesn’t feel distinctly wrong like the current proposition does.

So the good news is that the new conflict of interest guidelines mean that both of these circumstances are pretty much ok, the AGD simply asks that you manage your own potential conflicts of interest, so that you don’t have any. Always remember that the key words in a conflict of interest are in the actual title words: conflicted interests. Does situation A sit in conflict with situation B? Is your interest in one affecting the other. That’s why the AGD maintains a tight hold on the scenarios around celebrants employed by venues and celebrants who are migration agents (you can’t be either) because there are numerous obvious situations where your interests could easily be conflicted on a regular basis.

The most obvious conflicts of interest for the “employed by a venue” situation would be if you deemed the couple not fit to marry and if you were self-employed maybe you’d lose $1000, but because your employer could stand to lose $20,000 then maybe your judgement would be blurred. The migration agent situation is clear enough.

But that’s not to say that both of these situations are within the law. In the realm of the Celebrant Institute website we are not qualified to offer legal advice of any kind at any time. Sarah and I are not lawyers, although I have watched six seasons of Suits, so I know my way around a courtroom. We do however offer advice and insight on the marriage laws and guidelines as we interpret them, and Sarah actually is qualified and authorised to offer training on those laws and guidelines, but when it comes to other laws like consumer law and business law, we’re as intelligent as you are after a quick Google search.

So this isn’t legal advice, this is just Josh advice:

I would commercially marry myself to as few people as possible. The wedding industry’s least favourite people are those that have their hands in everyone’s pockets because they value relationship less than dollars. My argument has always been that we should all expect nothing from each other and make genuine and generous offerings of recommendations based on relationship and talent. If we employ low expectations and high quality recommendations then logic would tell us that it will all come back to us, and if we’re charging enough to run our business then we don’t need the $50 from him and the discount from her.

It’s a simple methodology but its one that has served me well for almost ten years.

If I do ask for money (or value) from you, you’re either getting married by me (or I’m performing some other service for you), you’re attending a workshop I’m running, or you’re a celebrant looking for advice or referrals, I charge for my celebrant directory because it’s an easy path of referral – I list celebrants similar in nature to me and they receive referrals of couples who enquiries with me that I’m not available for, and because my enquiry rate is high enough, its a solid business model, but the expectations are still low on all sides, and if anyone leaves, there’s no hurt feelings. The celebrant directory doesn’t negatively affect anyone.

In a similar vein, you may have read our “PA system for celebrants” article in which I highly recommend a Bose S1 PA system. As of today that article has no sponsorship or commercial arrangement around it, but I’ll honestly tell you that before I published I attempted to get a deal in place which included a package for members and possibly a deal for Sarah and I, but I couldn’t wrangle one in time. I’m still pursuing this arrangement and if it comes into play, I’ll update the page accordingly offering a disclosure that the review was prepared independently but now we’ve entered into a commercial arrangement with someone. I won’t be apologetic or awkward about it, we won’t be the first business to enter into a commercial arrangement and we won’t be the last, and we’ll probably be far more open about it than we are required (its not required) because that’s Sarah and my nature, and plus we’re betting on the fact that you guys aren’t idiots and you’d see right through it if I only l linked to one company. I’d also be expecting you to be smart enough to Google the PA system name and do your own research, and if you’re not smart enough, then our commercial arrangement wins.

I can foresee other commercial arrangements being viewed negatively by industry, but Pete’s suit example doesn’t look to be one of them.

Do note that when you do have a commercial arrangement as a self-employed sole trader you are only required to publicly disclose that arrangement if the marketer has “control” over your posts, that is, they tell you what to post, and how to post it. More on that on the ABC News website.

As we’ve already covered, I can’t talk to the legal side of the suit deal however (it sounds ok), but I’ll let you do your own Google search or ask a lawyer yourself.

Parents’ names on the NOIM. Part 2

I've written previously about listing parents' names on the NOIM, and I've had some follow up questions (from a celebrant who had totally read the first post, yay!):

1) Recently received a NOIM by email (interstate couple) where the Father is listed as 'Unknown' - should I be clarifying if this is actually the case (even though I don't have to see evidence), as opposed to the party just preferring not to list? OR am I able to simply rely on their statement? 

2) In the case where a person does not wish to include one of their parent's names (eg: a party who has renounced a parent and would prefer to write 'unknown' or write a step-parents name) should I be advising that they must include their biological parent's name (even though I'm not required to see evidence)? 

To be honest, this area is quite contentious at the moment (for reasons I'll outline below) so I'm going to answer these questions in two ways: what the Guidelines 2018 tell us, and what I think should be best practice. I will be following up these issues with the AGD and will let you know if/when I get some clarification.

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Proof of divorce: what, when, how?

A celebrant asks:

Divorce certificates. They just get me confused as to what I need to sight, how I need to sight it and what I definitely need to record. What I'd really like clarified once and for all is:

-- Do I need to see the original certificate?

-- If it's from a different country, what do I need to look for?

-- If my couple got divorced in a country that doesn't use English as its main language do I need to see a certified copy of the certificate?

-- If one/both of my couple got divorced in Australia and don't have a copy of the certificate, where do they apply for this?

Divorce certificates can be super confusing, not least because the way they've been issued in Australia has changed multiple times. So I'll take these questions one at a time, and hopefully things will become clearer!

Before I jump in though, the first point is to note that it's entirely up to the celebrant to decide whether or not they are satisfied that the party is free to marry. AGD won't help, BDM won't help, the onus is completely on the celebrant.

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Guidelines 2018: What’s changed? Part 7

In this series of posts (including Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6) I'll be looking at the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018: what's new, what's changed, and what's gone. I'm not going to talk about changes such as the checklist for solemnising marriages moving from page 31 to the appendix, or other page or structure changes. What I will be talking about is the changes that affect the way Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (both Subdivision C marriage celebrants and Subdivision D religious marriage celebrants) do our work, and there are more than you might expect. Let's dive in!

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One month notice period: we won!

Some of you will have been following my post about the updated guidance received on the one month notice period. If you haven’t had a chance, feel free to review it before you read on. 

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that this morning at 11.40am I received the following email from the AFCC (of which I’m a member):

The Marriage Law and Celebrants Section (MLCS) of the Attorney-General’s Department hosted a teleconference in regard to the recent advice provided on giving one (1) month notice this morning, which Irene Harrington, Stacey Maguire and Ant Burke participated.

Following an approach by Associations and many celebrants, the MLCS sought further clarification from the Office of Corporate Counsel in regard to their previous legal advice.

This has now been reviewed and the MLCS have advised the recent legal advice was incorrect and the original interpretation on the one month period still stands as reflected in the current Guidelines [emphasis added]. In other words, celebrants should apply the one (1) month notice period as previously applied.

The MLCS will host further teleconferences today with the various BDMs, RTO’s and OPD training organisations to advise the above and will then forward a new draft fact sheet to Associations for review before sending it to all celebrants soon after. 

I would like to thank all AFCC members who made contact directly with the MLCS as requested to express their concern, as this ensured the outcome now achieved.

I am absolutely floored that the AGD has backed down on this, but completely delighted. People power actually works! I’m absolutely not the only person who fought this new guidance, but I’m still feeling pretty chuffed at having played a part in common sense prevailing. 

Yay!

Guidelines 2018: What’s changed? Part 6

In this series of posts (including Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5) I'll be looking at the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018: what's new, what's changed, and what's gone. I'm not going to talk about changes such as the checklist for solemnising marriages moving from page 31 to the appendix, or other page or structure changes. What I will be talking about is the changes that affect the way Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (both Subdivision C marriage celebrants and Subdivision D religious marriage celebrants) do our work, and there are more than you might expect. Let's dive in!

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Guidelines 2018: What’s changed? Part 5

In this series of posts (including Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4) I'll be looking at the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018: what's new, what's changed, and what's gone. I'm not going to talk about changes such as the checklist for solemnising marriages moving from page 31 to the appendix, or other page or structure changes. What I will be talking about is the changes that affect the way Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (both Subdivision C marriage celebrants and Subdivision D religious marriage celebrants) do our work, and there are more than you might expect. Let's dive in!

Read More

Guidelines 2018: What’s changed? Part 4

In this series of posts (including Part 1Part 2 and Part 3) I'll be looking at the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018: what's new, what's changed, and what's gone. I'm not going to talk about changes such as the checklist for solemnising marriages moving from page 31 to the appendix, or other page or structure changes. What I will be talking about is the changes that affect the way Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (both Subdivision C marriage celebrants and Subdivision D religious marriage celebrants) do our work, and there are more than you might expect. Let's dive in!

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Use of name changed by usage for trans parties

A celebrant asks:

I'm marrying a couple next year - Party 1 is female; Party 2 is a transgender male. What I want to clarify is that if Party 2 has neither a birth certificate or passport in his common usage name that's not a problem as long as I am satisfied he is who he says he is. For example, is it enough that I know people who know him, and that he is listed on his employer's website? My sense is that it is ridgy didge, but wanted to check that I'm right.

This celebrant's thoughts aren't quite right, and the answer is similar to the one I posted not long ago about a bride's birth certificate name not matching her identification documents name.

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Names in the legal vows

Jac asks:

I have a bride who no longer uses her birth name for anything except forms. Her invites use her preferred name. She has actually said it’s causing her anxiety that her birth name be used during the ceremony.

 

Am I right in saying that during mandatory vows we need to use birth certificate names (as they appear on the NOIM), however nicknames can be used everywhere else, unless of course she has officially changed her name (which it sounds like she hasn’t).

 

Can I also put the pressure on and say that 1. It won’t be legal and 2. I could lose my registration if we did not use her full name at least once?

Names are so tricky, but the rules outlined in the Guidelines 2018 are pretty clearcut.

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What to do when the name on a birth certificate is different from that on the photo ID…

A question came to us:

I am marrying a couple of brides this week and when I talked about the ID I'll need to witness beforehand, one piped up that her name on her Birth Cert is different to all other ID but she's never officially changed it. So her photo ID is going to be different surname to her Birth ID. She doesn't have a passport. I thought I'd need to use her original name on all marriage docs (for avoiding future issues with passports etc) but am I correct or can I use her preferred surname even though the paper-trail lacks an official name change?

I rang the celebrant about this one because she needed an answer urgently, and it turned out it was even more complicated than first thought!

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Do I need a qualified / accredited interpreter?

Candice asks:

I have a couple wanting to elope with just their parents and children present. I'm just writing because after looking at the guidelines I'm still a bit unclear and just need clarification on the use of a qualified interpreter. My couple are both deaf and they communicate via Auslan and of course their own beautiful way. Their parents are happy to sign and be there throughout our meetings and on the day. They can sign everything I say, and everything they say in return. Is this sufficient? Or do I need to advise them to organise a qualified person to come along? If the parents are okay to do this, do they still need to fill in a stat dec?

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Guidelines 2018: What’s changed? Part 3

In this series of posts (including Part 1 and Part 2) I'll be looking at the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018: what's new, what's changed, and what's gone. I'm not going to talk about changes such as the checklist for solemnising marriages moving from page 31 to the appendix, or other page or structure changes. What I will be talking about is the changes that affect the way Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (both Subdivision C marriage celebrants and Subdivision D religious marriage celebrants) do our work, and there are more than you might expect. Let's dive in!

Read More

Guidelines 2018: What’s changed? Part 2

In this series of posts (including Part 1) I'll be looking at the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018: what's new, what's changed, and what's gone. I'm not going to talk about changes such as the checklist for solemnising marriages moving from page 31 to the appendix, or other page or structure changes. What I will be talking about is the changes that affect the way Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (both Subdivision C marriage celebrants and Subdivision D religious marriage celebrants) do our work, and there are more than you might expect. Let's dive in!

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Office facilities – what’s required?

Alison asks:

I'm currently studying to become a marriage celebrant, but there is one thing that worries me about setting up my practice once authorised: the home office.

 

I currently live with flatmates in the city, so space is limited. I'm only planning on doing the celebrancy thing as a side gig (at the moment) as an antidote to my corporate day job, so renting full-time office space isn't practical.

 

In your interpretation of the Marriage Act and Code of Practice, would it be appropriate to maintain an "office" in my lockable bedroom, securing documents in a locked filing cabinet, while renting a separate interview space when needed or offering to meet couples in their homes? Can you recommend any other solutions?

This is definitely something you shouldn't be worried about at all, there's no need to overthink it!

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Personal vows and their content

Veronica asks:

I know according to section 45(2) of the Marriage Act, couples are required to say "I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband); or words to that effect." When it comes to couples personalising their vows, aside from the previous mentioned, do couples have to say certain things, or are they free to say what they see fit?

This one's almost easy: they can literally say whatever they see fit, almost...

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The rules for commitment ceremonies

Jac asks:

I have a couple coming up. They got married a year ago (pretty much for their families to have a religious ceremony). None of their friends know this though. Before getting married officially for their parents, they said they would only do it their parents' way if they could have a big bash with their friends the way they want this year. The time has come! It's within a month.

 

I met with them yesterday and they were so stressed about their friends finding out etc that they were already married. I explained that we wouldn't have to focus on that and include in the scripting that "this is the day that Jack and Jill are choosing to celebrate their marriage in front of you special people blah blah blah". Instead of doing official paperwork, I offered a commemorative certificate instead (as this doesn't have any legal bearing anyway). Are there any issues with what can/cannot be written on this? Would 'wedding certificate' be safe?

 

I really don't want to say 'THIS CEREMONY IS IN NO WAY LEGAL/BINDING' so I was just going to gloss over it a little how you explained in your previous podcast. Obviously no Monitum will be said and there will be no legal vows but the couple will still write their own. Obviously I won't be doing DONLIMs or submitting anything formal to BDM, but I thought the 'pretty' certificate or a commemorative certificate would be okay. Anything else I should look out for?

The Guidelines are pretty clear on this, but let me give you my interpretation of what they say.

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Parents’ names on the NOIM

Listing the parents' names on the NOIM is often a huge headache. What if one of them changed their name? Do you put their name when they were born or when the party was born? What if there's a spelling error in their name on your birth certificate? What if they go by an anglicised name? The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants have, until now, been silent on this matter, and it's often been a point of contention between celebrants. Some celebrants say you should put whatever is on the party's birth certificate, because the important thing is to be able to link all the records. Some celebrants say you should put whatever the father's legal name is now, regardless of what it was when the party was born. But all that has changed with the release of the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018, so I was pleased to be able to answer the following question.

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Prospective Marriage Visa: the celebrant’s role

Shamini asks:

I have my first Proposed marriage visa letter. Do I get the couple to fill out the NOIM and groom sign it (bride is overseas). Prepare a letter and then only when she gets in the country get her to sign the NOIM? Or does she need to sign the NOIM in her country before I can give a visa letter?

There are multiple different visas a person can apply for in order to emigrate to Australia. If an Australian citizen or permanent resident falls in love with a citizen from another country, applying for a Prospective Marriage Visa (PMV) is one way the overseas partner can start the process of emigrating to Australia.

Remember, celebrants are in no way, shape or form allowed to give migration advice to couples. We must be mindful of the boundaries of our role. However, a PMV requires documentation from a celebrant before it can be approved, so this post is about the celebrant's role in this process.

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Running side hustles alongside your celebrant business

We've had a couple of anonymous questions on this in the last week, so I'm going to pop them both in here:

I'm looking at expanding my services other than just celebrant. At the moment I have a little side gig where it is wedding packages with hair, make up and myself this is run on a separate facebook page. But I'm wanting to possibly offer ceremony styling as well. Just wanted to check it I could advertise this on my celebrant website under a tab "Ceremony Styling" and offer DIY or we setup and dismantle the ceremony. Think simple to start with chairs, flowers and arch. Just before I go making any purchases just wanted some feedback and advice. Thanks!

And:

I am currently working for a theatre company and intend to keep working for them, but I want to be able to do weddings occasionally and for friends. However because I’m trained in fashion and costume I thought I’d be able to offer wedding dresses but from what I can understand I can’t? I understand how that can be a conflict of interest now but I was wondering where you draw the line within packages and extras. If I can’t even offer custom veils as an inclusion of a package then I feel like all my other hard earned creative making abilities are of no use?

This has all changed! We can now do (almost) anything we like!

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Ceremonies in public spaces and copyright

Jac asks:

The guidelines state that weddings are usually considered 'private in nature' and so playing music, reading poems etc is fine. The examples the guidelines list are all indoors. What if the ceremony is in a public space?

Do you have to get insurance for this through an association or does it fall under Public Liability, Personal Accident, Professional Indemnity etc if you went for insurance privately.

Would appreciate pros/cons etc of the going with an association if protection is required.

I'm going to look at all three questions here; whether or not we need copyright or other licences or insurances for weddings, and what kinds of insurance may be useful, and whether you should get your insurance through an association or privately!

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Period of residency on the NOIM

NOIM question. I know it says in the Guidelines if a person is in the country for a matter of days you leave the period of residency blank. Is that right? The only time I leave it blank is when they are born here, and I wouldn't want there to be any confusion with an overseas-born person if I left it blank and BDM thought I'd made a mistake and forgot to fill it in.

You're absolutely right, the Guidelines recommend leaving the period of residency fields blank on the NOIM.

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How does a party prove they’re divorced?

When someone gets divorced they are sent a divorce certificate (also called a divorce order). That certificate may take a different format depending on when it was issued, but since February 2010 divorce orders have been issued electronically.

Sometimes (often) by the time they come to remarry, a party has misplaced or lost their divorce order, but of course you can't marry them without seeing it.

So how do they get a new one? Read More

Can the Marriage Registry transfer a NOIM to a celebrant?

Sometimes couples think they want to get married at the Registry Office. They go along to the Registry and lodge their Notice of Intended Marriage, and then sometimes it's a few months before they can get an appointment for a marriage ceremony. In the meantime they find an awesome celebrant who convinces them they can do a much nicer ceremony at a much nicer place, and they decide to get married with the celebrant instead. Read More

Shortening of time: the celebrant’s role

It is a legal requirement that couples who want to get married in Australia give at least one month's, and no more than 18 months', notice through lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage with an Authorised Celebrant. However in some exceptional circumstances it is possible to have that notice period shortened by applying to a prescribed authority for a Shortening of Time. In capital cities prescribed authorities can generally be found at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages; for regional and rural areas the list of prescribed authorities should be consulted. Read More

Who can witness a NOIM under the title “legally qualified medical practitioner”?

Notices of Intended Marriage signed in Australia can be witnessed by people with a number of different qualifications. Most are pretty straightforward: an authorised celebrant, a justice of the peace, a barrister or solicitor, or a member of the Australian Federal Police or the police force of a State or Territory. Easy, right?

There's one qualification on the list that trips up a lot of couples and a lot of celebrants: legally qualified medical practitioner. What exactly does that mean? Read More