Same-sex marriage has been legal in Australia since 9 December 2017 after the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act (2017) was passed by the Australian Parliament on 7 December 2017 and received royal ascent from the Governor General the following day. The law came into effect on 9 December 2017 and also immediately recognised overseas same-sex marriages.
The first same-sex weddings occurred on 16 December 2017. At the same time that thousands of GLBTIQ couples began planning to marry, a number of same-sex couples have also commenced divorce proceedings to dissolve marriages made in overseas jurisdictions that had recognised same-sex marriage prior to Australia doing so.
Since 9 December 2017, all separating married couples irrespective of their gender composition or sexual orientation are treated the same as, and have their property settlement matters determined by, the same provisions of the Family Law Act (1975) as had previously occurred for heterosexual married couples prior to the 9 December 2017 amendments.
Property settlement cases for GLBTIQ couples who are not married are decided using the same principles and laws as are applied for any other de facto couples. As most states have now given their powers to the Commonwealth in respect of de facto couples the Family Law Act (1975) now applies in those states (including New South Wales). Property settlements for de facto couples under the Family Law Act (1975) are governed using identical legislation as that used for married couples.
Parenting arrangements for separating GLBTIQ families continue to be decided using the same principles and laws which apply for any other parenting cases regardless of the parents’ gender composition or sexuality . Whether you are the biological parent or not, a separating GLBTIQ parent has the same standing, rights and interests as the biological parent. In deciding a parenting case what is important is the relationship between the child and the parent, not just the biological parentage.
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