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3.2.4 Consent to marriage

Last Modified: 28-Jun-2018 Review Date: 01-Oct-2016

Purpose

To inform child protection workers of the consent procedures required when a child in the CEO's care wants to marry.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (Communities).

Practice Requirements

  • Under s.11 of the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 young people 18 years and older may marry in Australia. If exceptional and unusual circumstances exist, a judge or magistrate may authorise the marriage of a young person between 16 and 18 years of age to a person 18 years or older. For a young person for whom the CEO has parental responsibility, the CEO (or delegate) must also consent to the marriage.
  • Under s.127 Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) district directors have delegated authority to approve and sign consent forms for children who are under the parental responsibility of the CEO who wish to marry​ - children under a protection order (time-limited) and a protection order (until 18).
  • Where a child has been provided with a placement service under s.32(1)(a) of the Act, or is the subject of a negotiated placement agreement, parental responsibility remains with the parents and approval cannot be provided by the district director (refer to related resource In the CEO’s Care – Parental Responsibility Chart for specific information).
  • The young person must participate in the decision to marry.
  • In all instances where consent to marriage is sought for a young person, child protection workers must make reasonable efforts to involve the young person's parents and include them in the decision-making process. These efforts must be recorded on the case file.
  • Where the parents object to the proposed marriage they must be informed of their avenues of review before approval is given.
  • A Communities' decision to support the young person must include an assessment of his or her capacity to make such a decision (refer to Gillick Principle in related resources).
  • Where the young person has an Aboriginal background, consultation must occur with the Aboriginal practice leader (or other relevant Aboriginal officer) in the district office.  All consultations must be recorded and saved in the case file.
  • Where the young person has a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background, specific language and cultural needs must be considered. Where possible, this information should be obtained from the child’s family and community. Additional cultural information is available through the CaLD SharePoint Resource Library (in related resources).
  • If a decision is made to proceed with the marriage, child protection workers must consult with the General Law Unit on the process involved in making the application to a judge or magistrate.
Process Maps

Not Applicable

Procedures

  • Young person (or foster carer) approaches Communities about getting married
  • Completion of documentation
  • Approval process
  • Recording
  • Young person (or foster carer) approaches Communities about getting married

    If a young person in the CEO's care (or a foster carer) approaches Communities about the process for obtaining consent to be married, child protection workers need to be aware that marriage of a young person who is over 16 but less than 18 years old is only possible if the person they are marrying is 18 years of age or older.

    The decision to approve a young person under the age of 18 years to marry is a very serious matter, with long term emotional, social and legal consequences for the young person in question. It is not expected that requests to marry would routinely occur, and a care plan report supporting the request to marry is a prerequisite to forwarding a submission for approval to the district director.

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    Completion of documentation

    Child protection workers should obtain a copy of the consent form from the Registrar General’s Office before preparing the relevant documentation.

    Contact details:

    Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages
    Level 10, 141 St Georges Terrace
    PERTH  WA  6000
    Telephone: 1300 305 021 or visit the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages website.

    Child protection workers must:

    1. Access the template 'Consent to marriage' from the 'templates' tab in the young person's '360 degree view' in Assist and insert all relevant details to the template submission for approval.
    2. Attach the following to the submission:
      • a copy of the most recent care plan or modified care plan, and
      • the relevant consent form from the Registrar General’s Office.

    There is no need to prepare a letter for the district director’s signature to the Registrar General. The young person presents the documentation with the consent form to the magistrate.

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    Approval process

    Child protection workers submit the documentation to their team leader. The team leader checks, considers, endorses and forwards the submission to the district director for approval.

    The district director considers and approves the submission, if appropriate. If the matter is contentious, the district director should forward the submission to the relevant Executive Director (Metropolitan Services or Country and Therapeutic Care) for endorsement.

    If the submission is approved, child protection workers inform the young person, his or her parent(s) and carer(s) that consent has been approved, and arranges for the young person to collect the documentation for presentation to a magistrate at the Family Court.

    Note: The Registrar General’s Office has advised that a magistrate may not give permission for the young person to marry even though consent has been obtained from the district director. In these instances, the young person must wait until he or she is 18 years of age to marry.

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    Recording

    Child protection workers must:

    • record relevant details in the Quarterly Care Review and ‘Person’ Details in Assist
    • scan the documents and save them to the young person’s Child History File in Objective, and
    • place the original documents in the young person’s Child History Folder.   
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