CoCA Submission on Revised Marriage Forms - June 2017
The following recommendations and comments were compiled from feedback from CoCA Associations. the Australian Marriage Celebrant Association Inc (AMC), Civil Celebrations Network Inc (CCN), Marriage Celebrants Australia Inc (MCA), Celebrants Australia Inc (CAI), Association of Civil Marriage Celebrants of Victoria and Professional Celebrant Association Inc (PCA), then circulated to all CoCA delegates and CoCA association committees for comment. Additional comments were provides by the Riverina Marriage Celebrant Association (RMCA), the Association of Civil Marriage Celebrants of NSW & ACT (ACMCNSW&ACT) and Association of Civil Marriage Celebrants of SA (ACMCSA).
Unless specifically noted with a suffix, the recommendation/ comment has the support of the majority of CoCA delegates.
There was a variety of opinions as to the phase in time for the Forms – some as soon as 2 or 6 months, and others as long as 18 months. It is assumed that the Form 13 will be accepted for at least 18 months, as this is the length of notice, from the time the new forms are required to be used.
General Comments on the Revised Forms 13, 14, 16 and 24
- All associations appreciate the return of the numbers for the forms i.e. form 14 and form 16 etc.
- Overall the forms look far easier to use and the use of Tick/Check boxes is applauded.
- The black headers used on the drafts is very heavy – could be reduced to grey-scale to look less officious / formidable and to not be such a drain on printers.
- The format of the forms is currently suitable to computer use. Our major concern is the formatting and style of the documents for their completion by hand.
Many boxes would be too small for people to write in – especially the Notice of Intended Marriage that is often hand written by the couples
As all these forms need to provide maximum space for hand-written information, saving 4 or 5 mm from margins and other areas is important for the information boxes. Also the forms need to still have the rows and columns format so it is clear where the information is to finish.
On most forms the heading (font) size, not body text font, could be reduced and save several lines - enabling some of the boxes to be larger to ensure sufficient space, for example, for names and addresses.
- The removal of the questions regarding children and life status of parents is greatly appreciated.
- A recommendation that the term “Surname” be changed to “Family Name“ or “ Last name” to allow for cultural differences.
- “Surname prior to first marriage”, may not be a person’s surname prior to first married. Parents may have had a couple of surnames before their first marriage - due to mother remarrying etc. Also many parents do not change their names even when they are married.
Therefore it is suggested this be changed to maiden name or terms as “at birth” consistent with suggestion 6 above., for example, Family name at birth, or Last name at birth.
- One of our group road-tested the forms and found that word-wrap does not occur when filling out on a PC, (so when printing the form - some data is not shown) but when filling out the form on an Apple Mac, word-wrap did occur and all the data appears when printing – AMC.
- It would make sense to use the terms Party 1 and Party 2 for the Bride and Groom in the same way as the parental details are now changed to Parent 1 and 2. However, it is recognised that this may be seen as pre-empting a change to legislation – CCN.
- CoCA has prepared some sample mock-ups of the forms to show how the suggestions above could be implemented.
Sample 1 – Notice of Intended Marriage Page 3
Sample 2 – Notice of Intended Marriage Page 4
Sample 3 – Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage
Sample 4 – Official Marriage Certificate (Form 16)
Sample 5 - Faithful Performance of Interpreter – Page 1
Sample 6 - Faithful Performance of Interpreter – Page 2
All the forms were modified and worked on as images in Adobe Photoshop.
In this way the proportions of the original documents have been maintained.
This to show it is possible to set up the masters with much more flexibility than can be done in Word.
Desktop Publishers can do this precise work for the background.
Then the forms can be printed for filling in by hand and also converted to .PDF files with text boxes for typing in the information.
- The following are considered good changes:
- adding the tick boxes for marital status and other items, instead of writing in full
- adding divorce pending as an option for marital status
- adding the celebrant transfer section
- removing children from previous marriage field
- The box for celebrant use - which is now placed on the front of page 1 needs to be on the top of page 3, as the celebrant would normally tear off and give page 1 to the couple as the first two pages are for the couple. There is no place on page 3 and 4 where the celebrant can note the date place and time of the proposed ceremony.
- Privacy Notice. Dot point 2 does not state that the celebrant should submit the document to the BDM. Therefore the second dot point would be better in the active voice – “The authorised celebrant will submit the documents………….” - the way it is written it looks as if the couple need to do it.
- Item 5 the words ‘legally married’ are used to describe “conjugal status”, therefore in the next sentence about relationships, it is suggested that the word ‘legal/legally’ be added to ‘married relationships’ – CAI.
- No box available page 3 for the name & details of the proposed celebrant by name/suburb/state, a church or specific BDM. This should be included as the celebrant who actually solemnises the marriage on the day might be different to the one who solemnises the marriage.
- The form needs to have a deeper box for addresses which have 3 lines, for example:
Apartment 765 Breezy Seas
321-325 Coastal Boulevarde
Cleveland Qld 4163
and the information on the parents one two etc, more space need to be given to write the full names across the page - especially if someone has a hyphenated surname or more than one middle name.
- Boxes and columns need defined areas to write in, as without that, some may write across into another section. unless that is what is meant to happen.
- Adding parent "Current surname" in addition to "parent surname before first marriage" may assist with complicated ID tracking.
- After Item 23 Insert provision for the receiving celebrant to sign that they have received the NOIM on that date.
- "Details of the parties” legal parents is confusing. Suggest “Only one legal parent” and a check box for “Not Recorded” if the phrase “Only one legal parent” includes people with a Birth Certificate stating “Unknown” for a second parent.
- As a family historian, I think the parent (deceased ) should be retained. It is invaluable information – MCA.
- Item 32 – Recommend this be "Certificate number" – not just Death Certificate number.
All or most Death, divorce and nullity certificates have a number. NSW BDM's Lifelink program only calls for the Court location but BDM staff seem to write the number on forms when they receive them.
- Given that the marital status of the parties to the marriage is crucial, the information items 30, 31, 32, 33 on Page 4 would be best placed after item 21 on page 3, and change item 31 to read “how last marriage ended”. Item 32 to read “Certificate Number (when available)”; and Item 31 retained on Page 4, but simplified to confirm that the celebrant has sighted the evidence related to the dissolution of previous marriage/s. This would highlight to the parties to the marriage the need to supply this documentary evidence.
- Also it is suggested that Item 31 - "Not applicable" – be deleted as it is not relevant and putting all the boxes on one line to create extra space.
- Removing Item 31 - "Not applicable" will give extra space as would prefer to add in a line for "Evidence Sighted" yes/no - from page 4. We do not agree to splitting like minded information – RMCA
CoCA sample mock-up
- Suggest Item 43 and (section if a party is under 18 years …) be moved up to under Item 23 as these are next steps related to receiving a notice and checking both parties are old enough to marry.
- Recommend the box called "Transfer of Notice of Intended Marriage to another celebrant" & the box “Official Use only” (for granting shortening of time) be moved above "Details to be completed by authorised celebrant after ceremony.
(1) Both the transfer and the granting of shortening of time are done BEFORE the marriage, then the final signing off would be in the last boxes.
(2) Then the statement "I confirm that in receiving this Notice, I am satisfied that the reasons ......." would be made in the appropriate place, i.e., before the Celebrant has signed off on the solemnisation.
- Re: The long statement “I confirm that in receiving………….” - Section 46(2) appears to allow for “any other reason’ so it is not clear what the value in this confirmation. Please clarify why this needs to be included – CCN.
- Move Item 29 as the next item to Item 25 as State/ Country etc. is more relevant to Birth and Passports etc.
- Celebrant being satisfied as to the identities of the parties to the marriage - Items 25, 26,27 : Recommend text boxes for the checking that identities of the parties to the marriage for Drivers Licence, Passport, Age Card etc. - CCN
- Also add Text Box for Other Evidence. Whilst photo ID is preferable, it is not required by the Marriage Act. So there should be the opportunity for other documents (such as Medicare Card , Rates Notice, Credit Card) to assist the celebrant being satisfied that the parties to the marriage are as named. To protect privacy reasons and minimise identify fraud concerns, the numbers of documents, other than birth/ passport, divorce / nullity, need not to be recorded – CCN.
- Recommend there be a check box for civil celebrants to use instead of having to write “civil ceremony according to the Marriage Act 1961”.
- Place marriage solemnised (completed by celebrant after wedding) only lists City/Town and State, not "church or other place" first as is written on the Marriage Certificates. In the past, many have written the full place of marriage in this box e. g. Marine Park, Cleveland, Qld – not just Cleveland, Qld. Is this less detailed location all that is required? PCA
- “Details to be completed by authorised celebrant after ceremony:” would be more accurately termed as “Details to be completed by authorised celebrant solemnising the marriage after the ceremony” now there is a section for the transfer of the notice - AMC
CoCA sample mock-up
- Suggest making the form header smaller to allow more depth for the name, occupation, address fields.
- Under details of the parties 3 – an explanation of prohibited relationship should be included. This definition, along with the other requirements for marriage such as free consent should also be included in the Notes on the Notice of Intended Marriage – ACMCV
- Wording in No. 3 suggested change:
I believe that there is no legal impediment to my marriage with o the Bride (details specified above) o the Groom (details specified above) Change to:
I believe that there is no legal impediment to my marriage with o the Bride (details shown on this form) o the Groom (details shown on this form)
REASON: The details are not actually above the check box – it is confusing.
- As marriages involving minors are rare and only one party to the marriage can be under 18 years, Section 2 can be simplified to have only one set of “Name and Location of court that made the order” / “ Date of order”.
CoCA sample mock-up
- As this form is a “certificate” and part of the ceremonial process, with the couple signing in the Marriage Register as the record of their ceremony, it is important that the form has a ceremonial style. A calligraphy font, such as Edwardian font. for the heading and the removal of the black backgrounds to sub-heading boxes would be make this form more attractive.
- The tick boxes for Conjugal status have not printed. The form needs to be corrected by graphic designer.
- Surname prior to first marriage – See General Comments
- Recommend the Marriage Register be produced as an A4 size instead of the old Foolscap size. The larger size serves no purpose except to be larger than necessary and doesn't conform to Australian standard paper size any more. Also makes this register heavier to carry.
- Under Parent 2: Could there be another check box on the same line saying Not Recorded rather than a separate line for “only 1 legal parent” – CCN.
- Suggest removing the heading “Signatures of parties and two witnesses” as this interrupts the flow of completing the form”
Alternatively place this sub-heading under the Signatures of the Bride and Groom and reword as Details and signatures of witnesses - CCN.
- As the purpose of the changes is to provide more user friendly Forms with everyday wording, recommend "conjugal" status be changed to "marital" status - PCA.
CoCA sample mock-up
- May look more user friendly, but it now requires 2 pages and repetition of information because the Before and After the ceremony is not on one page.
It is recommended to re-design so this only takes one page. See Samples provided.
- Some concern expressed that another suitable witness rather than the actual celebrant could witness that stat. dec. on either side of the form – and not the celebrant conducting the wedding – MCA
CoCA sample mock-up