Two Perth women are finally able to file for one of Australia’s first same-sex divorces now that Australian marriage equality has come into effect.
The couple married at a foreign consulate in Perth in 2015, under the laws of a European country where same-sex marriage was legal.
But when they separated, the couple discovered that getting a divorce was previously impossible because their union wasn’t recognised under Australian law.
One of the women asked Perth family lawyers Maria Loukas and Teresa Farmer to look into the couple’s options.
“The difficulty for this particular couple was having married under legislation of a European country, they couldn’t access the divorce system in that country because they weren’t residents in that country, neither of them were,” Farmer told the ABC.
“They were very much caught with no other option… They’re no different to any other married couple and there will be a rate of failed marriages.
“But had Australia not changed the law, I don’t know what would have happened for this couple.”
On Saturday, the first Australian same-sex couples across the country gave their required one month’s notice of their intentions to wed before same-sex weddings begin in January.
The same day, the marriages of thousands of Australian same-sex couples who wed overseas were immediately recognised.
The two lawyers can now lodge the paperwork to finally allow the Perth couple to divorce.
“For her, it’s been about not being able to move on with her life,” Loukas said.
“It’s been about not being able to tidy up the end of something to be able to start fresh somewhere else.”
In August, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that Australia not allowing same-sex couples to divorce constituted an international human rights violation.
Queensland woman Fiona Campbell took her case to the United Nations after finding out she couldn’t end her legal Canadian same-sex marriage in Australia.