The Federal Government has now passed legislation to provide marriage equality in Australia. The Attorney General released a statement in which he said “Marriage will now be defined in the Marriage Act 1961 as the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Same-sex couples now have the same rights under the Marriage Act as all other couples”. For full statement click here.
It is anticipated that separated same sex couples who were legally married overseas will now be able to divorce in Australia providing they meet the jurisdictional requirements of the Family Court.
In Western Australia, legally married same sex couples, upon separation, will now be able to split their superannuation entitlements under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Previously, in Western Australia, as same sex couples were unable to be legally married in Australia or recognised as legally married, they fell under the Family Court Act 1997 (WA) and were unable to split their superannuation entitlements upon separation.
Same sex couples need to be aware that marriage will revoke an existing valid Will unless made in contemplation of the marriage. Divorce will also revoke an existing valid Will unless a contrary intention appears in the Will or there is other evidence to establish such an intention.