Lindy Cooke Celebrant wedding flowers, exchanging rings, ceremonies

Shortening of time to marry

The shortest time I have been approached by a couple requesting a “shortening of time” to marry was 10 days. The application was successful as the prescribed authority deemed the reason for the shortening of time fell into one of the following categories. If you feel that your circumstances also meet one of the following categories, please feel free to contact me for further information regarding my availability on your chosen date.

 

Five Reasons

There are only five reasons a prescribed authority may allow a couple to marry in Australia when a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) is lodged with an authorised celebrant with less than one month’s notice:

 employment related or other travel commitments (evidence of the date on which the applicant was informed about this commitment as opposed to the date on which the commitment will commence will need to be provided);

  wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations (receipts for payments or evidence of the date wedding invitations were sent will need to be produced);

  medical reasons (a letter from a medical practitioner will be required);

  legal proceedings; or

  an error in giving notice (on the part of the authorised celebrant, not the couple.)

 

Key Points

When approached by a couple who indicate they would like their marriage to occur with less than one month’s notice, a celebrant should explain the following key points to the couple:

(i) the reason for seeking a shortening of time must fall within one of the categories described above before the application can be considered;

(ii) a prescribed authority has no discretion to grant a shortening of time outside the circumstances covered by these categories;

(iii) the granting of a shortening of time is not automatic; and

(iv) a prescribed authority may charge an application fee – celebrants should suggest that the couple check if a fee is charged when making an appointment. (Note: The couple referred to in my first paragraph above were charged a fee of $44 by a prescribed authority at the local Court House.)

 

Other Important Information

The authorised celebrant should also advise the parties to the marriage to make an appointment with a prescribed authority and to take the completed NOIM and any other documentary evidence with them to prove why they require a shortening of time (for example, medical certificates or a travel itinerary). This is the only circumstance in which a celebrant should release the completed NOIM to the parties to the intended marriage. The NOIM must be returned to the celebrant after the meeting with the prescribed authority.

Here’s a list of where you can find prescribed authorities in Australia.

It is recommended, although not essential, that an authorised celebrant provide you with a note on their letterhead stating that they were contacted by you on (date) with a request to perform a marriage ceremony between (party 1) and (party 2) on (date). The letter should indicate that the celebrant is available to marry the couple on this date, subject to an approval for shortening of time from a prescribed authority. It should also indicate that the celebrant has completed a NOIM with the couple and that this is now in their possession. The letter should go on to state that the celebrant has advised the couple to make an appointment with a prescribed authority and to present him/her with their supporting documentation so that their situation can be assessed. As your potential celebrant, I charge a non-refundable $200 to meet with you, complete a NOIM and prepare this letter on your behalf. Should your request for a shortening of time be granted, this fee will then be deducted from my overall fee as discussed with you at the time of our meeting.

It is also recommended that one or both applicants (depending on the situation) complete a Statutory Declaration stating the reasons why they are seeking a shortening of time for their marriage to occur. Here’s a link to the form.

Should the application be successful, the prescribed authority will tick the box on page 4 of the NOIM “Authority for marriage despite late notice” and cross out the word “not” before “applicable”. The prescribed authority will also sign and write their name underneath this box, add their designation and the words “Prescribed Authority” as well as the date.

The couple should return the NOIM to the celebrant and, if a shortening of time has been granted, he/she can then continue with their usual process of interviewing the couple and writing and officiating at their ceremony.

 

After the marriage

After the marriage has taken place, the celebrant will need to provide Births Deaths & Marriages with the (Form 13) Notice of Intended Marriage, (Form 14) Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage and (Form 16) Certificate of Marriage as usual, together with any other relevant documentation such as a copy of the Statutory Declaration (the original will be retained by the prescribed authority) and a copy of their letter supporting the request for a shortening of time. Births Deaths & Marriages will then have the necessary paperwork to deem the marriage to be legal so that it can be duly registered.

013 – 25/01/2015

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