“Married at First Sight” – Is it even legal?

Posted on Feb 15, 2017 by Samantha Miller   |   Categories: Family Law

Technically a big fat NO.  It seems the term “married” is being used rather loosely on this highly popular reality television show.

In case you’re wondering the requirements for a valid marriage are as follows:

  1. Neither party is validly married to another person;

 

  1. The relationship is not a “prohibited relationship”. A “prohibited relationship” is one which occurs:
    1. Between a person and an ancestor or descendant; or
    2. Between a brother and a sister.

 

  1. The marriage ceremony complied with the laws of the place in which it took place;

 

  1. Both parties consented to the marriage taking place. Consent is not valid if
    1. It was obtained under duress or fraud;
    2. There is a mistake as to the identity of a party to the marriage or the nature of the ceremony performed;
    3. Either party is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the ceremony.

 

  1. The parties are of marriageable age (generally 18).

 

The TV marriages fail under section 3 as they do not comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia which require that the celebrant be given written notice by both parties at least one month prior to the ceremony.

I am quite curious to know though whether there is the potential for this show to go horribly wrong.  If the participants believe they are validly married then if the relationship breaks down technically there could be an application to the court.  Such an application would most likely take the form of an application for nullity based on the fact that the ceremony did not comply with the law.  ‘Why bother?’ you might think.  Well that’s where it gets interesting. As a party to a marriage, including a void marriage, either party is entitled to make a claim under the Family Law Act for property adjustment and spousal maintenance!

Now I’m not saying an applicant would have any success in convincing a judge that an order was justified if they separated shortly after the “marriage” ceremony took place however it does make you think!