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Shortening of Time

Mon, 5 Oct 2015

Shortening of Time

Many couples get engaged and begin to plan their wedding without any thought of what the legal requirements are.

In recent months I have received several inquiries from couples wanting to get married in the next couple of weeks.  Unfortunately for many of them, this has not been possible. 

The Marriage Act requires that the Notice of Intended Marriage must be given to the authorised celebrant no later than 18 months and no later than one month before the date of marriage. 

There are however, five circumstances in which an application for shortening of time may be considered by a prescribed officer.  A prescribed officer is not an authorised celebrant, but an appointed authority.

The five circumstances in which an application for shortening of time may be considered are limited to -

1. Employment related or other travel commitments.  An example is where a party to the intended marriage has accepted an offer of employment for imminent transfer or posting overseas for a period of at least three months

2. Wedding or celebration arrangements or religious considerations.  An example is when non-refundable payments of considerable sums of money have been paid and the date of the wedding cannot be changed

3.  Medical reasons.  An example is when a party to the intended marriage, or a parent or close relative of the party, has a serious illness that will prevent them from attending the wedding unless it is held in less than a month

4.  Legal proceedings.  An example is when a party to the intended marriage is subject to a pending court proceeding and is at risk of imprisonment

5.  An error in giving notice.  An example is if the parties have given written notice in the required time, and arrangements for the wedding have been made but the notice was lost by the marriage celebrant.

If you are considering seeking a shortening of time, you must firstly contact your celebrant and fill in the required paperwork.  The celebrant will then write a covering letter to the prescribed authority, explaining that they are free to perform the ceremony and outlining the reasons the shortening of time is required. The couple must also write a letter to the prescribed authority, explaining their reasons they need the shortened period. The couple must also attach supporting documentation such as a letter from a doctor concerning a person's health; a letter from a commanding officer if a party is being deployed overseas; receipts and documentation verifying amounts of deposits lost if the marriage does not take place at the appointed time.  Couples will then need to contact Births, Deaths and Marriages and make an appointment to meet with the prescribed authority and present their case.

However, couples should be aware of the following -

*   the reason for seeking a shortening of time must fall within one of the 5 categories

* a prescribed authority has NO DISCRETION to grant a shortening of time outside of the circumstances outlined above

*  the granting of a shortening of time is NOT automatic; and

*  the prescribed authority may charge a non-refundable application fee

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