In Australia, consent to marry means both parties agree to the marriage and understand the union’s nature. Plus, no force is used upon either person to get married.
Consent is an act of reason and deliberation – requiring time.
In Australia, the time period to satisfy consent is a minimum of one month.
Under Australian law, a couple must complete, sign and give a Notice of Intended Marriage to a Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrant at least one month before they marry.
Why one month?
I suspect the law’s origin is a Christian tradition called “Banns”.
Banns were a public announcement of an impending marriage between two specified persons made in a church or town council over 3–4-weeks.
Banns’ purpose was to allow time.
Time for the news to spread. Time for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place. And time to investigate any claims.
It was also time for a couple to deliberate their understanding and decision to marry. Plus, consider the intended spouse’s suitability.
Pre-marriage education helped to satisfy reason and deliberation. An opportunity for the couple to learn and examine the legal, social and religious nature of marriage. Plus, discuss their beliefs, expectations, and roles in marriage. As well as topics such as conflict management, finance, family planning, parenting and communication styles.
Today, arguments exist whether the one-month notice period is necessary or useful to the couple and to society. That if a couple is of age and of consent, what difference is it if they want to marry today or in a month?
Does the notice period satisfy there has been adequate reason and deliberation given to the decision to marry by the couple? Not necessarily. But it’s a safety net.
It’s allowing time and ‘potential’ opportunity for the couple to deliberate their reason to marry, to help prevent or minimise ‘spur of the moment rash decisions’.
There is no legal requirement to use the notice period for marriage preparation to demonstrate a level of reason and deliberation.
Determining a couple’s understanding, reason, and deliberation to marry is satisfied if the couple meets the law’s requirements.
Consent to marry requires the parties to complete and sign the legal paperwork. Plus, say to one another – during the ceremony in front of the witnesses – that they take the other party as a lawful wedded partner/husband/wife.
A Celebrant must ensure the couple receives an information leaflet about getting married and some important legal consequences of getting married. Plus include a statement (the ‘monitum’) in the marriage ceremony to explain (remind) a couple of the nature of the marriage relationship the couple has agreed to enter according to Australian law.
Apart from meeting the legal requirements to marry, a Celebrant uses their skill-set, understanding, and approach to marriage to determine whether the couple gives consent to marry. The time this takes varies from Celebrant to Celebrant, couple to couple.
The argument for reducing the current one-month notice period comes down to costs, gains, and perceived value – for and by whom.
It comes down to an understanding of consent. And how to determine reason and deliberation when it comes to consent to marry.