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Legislative reform for divorce looks unlikely

Fri 6 May 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The issue of divorce for overseas same-sex couples who marry here in New Zealand has come into the spotlight recently as an Australian woman revealed that she is unable to divorce because to do so she would need to live here. Getty images Louisa Wall, Labour MP and sponsor of the Marriage Amendment Bill that passed in 2013, says couples can marry in New Zealand regardless of living here but divorces can only be processed in the country in which you reside, which she believes is a universal law. “Same-sex couples who have come to New Zealand to marry have done so for many reasons,” she says, highlighting that couples who have come from Australia have done so because they cannot marry in Australia. “Given Australia does not recognise same-sex marriage there is no legal reason for an Australian citizen who lives in Australia and was married in New Zealand to get divorced,” says Wall. In 2015, 2910 marriages and civil unions were registered to overseas residents, with 438 of these same-sex marriages or civil unions. The statistics reveal that the number of overseas couples marrying or entering into civil unions here is almost equal to that of New Zealand residents. 471 New Zealand same-sex couples entered into marriage or civil union. The issue faced by overseas same-sex couples who wish to divorce, can be solved by legislative reform, however short of Australia legalising same-sex marriage, this would involve New Zealand amending S37 of the Family Proceedings Act. This would allow an application under subsection (1) where, the marriage or civil union was same-sex and where the couple live in a country that does not provide for marriage equality. Wall says she is not aware of any legislative reform proposed in New Zealand.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 6th May 2016 - 11:46am

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