It was a long day in court, but when a judge ruled the marriage records of two people who were married for years and who have since remarried are exempt from the State Marriage Act, the focus turned back to the State Government’s argument that it could not provide a full divorce.
“It was really an interesting moment,” Justice Richard Croucher said outside the Supreme Court in Canberra today.
The couples’ case was argued in front of Justice David Williams, who agreed that they were entitled to the full benefits of the State’s Marriage Act but disagreed that it should be able to provide them with only a limited divorce.
“The Marriage Act is about allowing a marriage to be solemnised and that’s what the Marriage Act says,” Justice Williams said.
The couple, who had previously lived in a different state, have since split and remarriage is now legal in the two states.
Justice Williams agreed with the State that there were other benefits to the Marriage Law, including the right to choose a partner.
He said the couples had not been given “a clear understanding” of the law, but they were “entitled to have a full separation”.
“We’re very confident the law is fair,” Justice William said.
“The law is not a tool to give you a divorce.”
The marriage law has a number of exemptions, including those relating to health, and the couple did not seek one in the case.
‘This is a marriage that has gone through a lot of hard times’The couple’s lawyer, Matthew Kouts, said he had been told the marriage law was meant to be a protection against discrimination against same-sex couples.
But he said the law had a “very broad” scope, including protections against violence, for example.
Mr Kouts said his clients “were in a really difficult marriage” but “we did have some very good times”.
Justice William said he was satisfied that the State had “all the relevant facts and I’m satisfied that all the relevant issues have been dealt with”.
He accepted that the couple were entitled “to a full and fair divorce”.
“The reason you are asking me to grant this request is because you are not satisfied with the reasons given by the Attorney-General, for which you have not been provided with a full explanation,” Justice John Williams said after reading out arguments.
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