Legal FAQs – after the Wedding

And after the wedding the real legal fun starts!


Changing your name

Traditionally, the bride changed her surname to that of her husband after she was married. While this custom is still popular, there is no longer any legal requirement to do this. And in fact, many brides today retain their birth name for a number of reasons. They may alternatively choose to combine their surname with their husband’s by hyphenatation.

Should you wish to hyphenate your name, you will need to apply for a registered change of name certificate through the State Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages Department.

Both of these decisions are personal choices, but these are some of the things you and your partner will need to discuss and agree upon before the wedding.

What you decide together regarding your surname will naturally affect the surnames of any children you should have. This has obvious legal and family consequences.

If you have changed your name, you must also remember to change your name on all official documents. The name on your driver’s licence, passport and bank accounts will all need to be changed, and you will need your Registered Marriage Certificate to do this. It may also be necessary to change the beneficiaries on your superannuation policies as well.


Taxation after marriage

Marriage may change your tax status.

Contact the Australian Tax Office, your accountant or financial adviser to see just how your tax and financial arrangements are likely to be affected after marriage.

Health and welfare benefits will also be affected. You must advise the various agencies about your marriage, if you are in receipt of any of these benefits. There can be loss of benefits or even penalties if you fail to do this immediately. Health Insurance Funds, Centrelink and other Government Departments are examples of such agencies.

Contact any appropriate agencies before the wedding to find out how or if your benefits will change, and what you have to do.

It may be wise to change your health insurance status from single to family fairly quickly, if having children is on the horizon soon.


Changing or making a Will

It is probably not a topic people about to be married like to think about, but having an up-to-date will becomes a particularly important issue upon marriage, and this needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

If you marry and die intestate (without a will), all your property will be inherited by your spouse, unless the marriage has produced children. If this is the case, spouse and children should share the estate. However, there are many apocryphal stories about people who marry and unexpectedly die intestate, which cause years of legal strife and expense between surviving family members, where only lawyers benefit from the oversight of not having changed that will.

Any will made before your marriage will no longer apply, so you need to have your solicitor make any changes.


Family responsibilities

Australian law considers the family an important institution. Under Australian law any children from a marriage are supposed to be financially supported. This does not only involve looking after their health and welfare, but also their proper education.


That’s it for the usual Legal FAQs. You can Return to Home Page here

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