This has been perhaps the most important and significant change to the legal regime supporting family relationships in Australia

This has been perhaps the most important and significant change to the legal regime supporting family relationships in Australia

So no-fault divorce, introduced in 1975, ended the notion of marriage being presumptively for life. It was replaced with a policy that marriage lasted only as long as both parties wanted it to.

A legal union

Far bigger changes concerning marriage were to occur after 1975. They began slowly, with a limited legal recognition of de facto relationships; but as the law has developed, cohabitation, living together with someone in an intimate partnership, has become exactly the same as marriage for legal purposes. A legal union, in other words, no longer matters.

After 2008, there was simply no difference, anywhere in Australian law, between a heterosexual couple being married, and living together in a de facto relationship, at least once a period of time, typically two years, had elapsed

As understood in Christendom, marriage involved a solemn commitment of a man and woman to live together until death parted them, usually made publicly before family and friends. By the time of Pope Innocent III in the 13th century, the Church taught that it should be in the presence of a priest as a witness. By 1563, the Council of Trent determined in its etsi that for a marriage to be valid there needed to be three witnesses, one of whom had to be the parish priest of one of the parties; and there had to be an announcement about the prospective marriage beforehand, known as ‘publishing the banns of marriage’.Continue Reading