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Same Sex Marriage is Now a Thing – But What Has Really Changed?

Australia voted yes. The campaign was huge, the tax payers’ money spent was outrageous and in the end the majority ruled (well at least the majority that voted anyway).

So the rights of same sex couples must have drastically changed as a result of all of that right? Well…not really. The law in relation to parenting, child support, property and entitlement to spouse maintenance applies in the same way as it has since the changes to the Family Law Act in 2008/2009.

In fact there are no changes to the Family Law Act 1975 at all as a result of the same sex marriage reform.

But the Marriage Act 1961 was amended so that the definition of marriage changed from “the union of a man and a woman” to “the union of 2 people”.

And what difference does that ‘marriage certificate’ make to same sex couples? It’s simple, same sex couples that choose to marry do not have to prove their relationship. You see, prior to same sex marriage, like any de facto relationship, in order to bring a claim in the family law courts in relation to financial matters a party to a same sex relationship had to first prove that a de facto relationship existed. That can be tricky thing to do, particularly if the parties haven’t lived together and kept their finances separate. But once that person has a marriage certificate, the fact of the relationship is no longer in question. Being married gives a person automatic entry to the family law courts.

So was it discrimination if the law applied equally to heterosexual de facto couples and same sex de facto couples? The difference was that heterosexual couples had the choice to get married, whereas same sex couples did not.

Was it worth the estimated $122m worth of tax payers’ money? That’s an argument for another day.

Image Credit – Aleksandar Mijatovic ©

Written by Amelia Trotman on March 12, 2018

Experienced in all aspects of Family Law, Amelia has a particular interest in complex parenting and property matters, international relocation matters and surrogacy. Amelia's down to earth approach and empathetic nature allows her to develop trusting relationships with clients and work towards achieving the best possible outcomes. View Amelia's profile

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