What documents do I need before I get married if I’m divorced?
The rules in Australia for obtaining documents of identity such as an Australian passport have been significantly strengthened over recent years.
If one of you whose last marriage ended in divorce must produce evidence of this divorce to the authorised celebrant. This evidence should take the form of the actual certificate of divorce, decree absolute or overseas issued equivalent. These options are explained below.
A marriage cannot take place until the evidence of this divorce has been sighted. If one of you has been married several times before, only the divorce order for the most recent marriage need be sighted by the authorised celebrant.
A divorce granted by a church is not the same as a divorce order made by a court, and does not demonstrate that a person is free to marry. A party claiming that a previous marriage has been annulled must provide the authorised celebrant with a court document to that effect.
EVIDENCE OF DIVORCES GRANTED IN AUSTRALIA
For divorces granted in Australia the required evidence of divorce will depend on when the divorce was granted. As explained below, it will be either a ‘decree absolute’, ‘certificate of divorce’ or ‘divorce order’.
When divorce granted Required evidence of divorce 5 January 1975 to 1 July 2002 - ‘decree absolute’ (A ‘decree nisi’ is not sufficient.)
1 July 2002 to 3 August 2005 - ‘certificate of divorce’ (The certificate will include wording of decree nisi/absolute but the document is called a certificate of divorce.)
3 August 2005 to 13 February 2010 - ‘certificate of divorce’ (Wording on the certificate will refer to a ‘divorce order’.)
13 February 2010 to 17 December 2011 - ‘divorce order’ (Issued electronically with no colour seals or signatures.)
From 17 December 2011 current - ‘divorce order’ (Issued electronically with colour seal and signature. An authorised celebrant may accept a divorce order where seal and signature are not in colour.)
Since February 2010, the family law courts have produced divorce orders in an electronic format including an electronic seal and signature. These orders include a certification pursuant to section 56 of the Family Law Act of the fact that the divorce order took effect on the date indicated. A celebrant is entitled to rely on these orders as evidence of a person’s Australian divorce.
If a person has lost their certificate of divorce or divorce order granted in Australia they should request a new one from the court that issued it.
Evidence of divorces granted overseas
If a person was divorced overseas they should provide the celebrant with divorce documentation from the country in which the divorce was granted.
The department is unable to verify the validity of foreign divorce documents or divorce procedures.
A celebrant may request to contact the relevant embassy or high commission to seek written confirmation that the documents provided are appropriate evidence of divorce in that country (noting that in some cases a person - most notably a refugee - may not be comfortable approaching the embassy or high commission of their country of origin to seek this confirmation). This confirmation should be provided to the celebrant. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website has contact details for foreign embassies and high commissions in Australia.