Can a Justice of the Peace Perform Marriages?
Most people are familiar with using a Justice of the Peace. You likely have had a copy certified or your signature witnessed on documentation by a JP at some point to buy a house or file paperwork for your job. But there is some confusion about what a JP can and cannot do.
One of the most common questions we get about the Justice of the Peace course is whether a Justice of the Peace can marry you?
Let’s a unpack this question, and find the answers to what a justice of the peace can do, what they can’t do and who can marry you?
What does a Justice of the Peace do?
A Justice of the Peace serves their community by certifying true copies of important documents and paperwork and witnessing signatures among other duties.
A Justice of the Peace cannot charge for their services and all JPs are required to complete a specific number of volunteer hours each year as a part of holding the office of a Justice of the Peace.
A JP cannot marry a couple. But they can:
- Witness oaths or affidavits
- Take statutory declarations and affirmations
- Witness signatures
- Attest the execution of a document
- Certify a true copy of an original document
- Issue search warrants
- Issue arrest warrants
- And grant bail
Who can marry you?
There are four types of marriage celebrants in Australia. You can be married by a commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant, a commonwealth-registered religious celebrant, authorised ministers of religion and authorised state and territory officers. Let’s take a more detailed look at each kind below.
Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant
The commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants need to apply for registration with the government. To be able to apply to be a non-religious marriage celebrant you must either have completed some relevant studies in celebrancy, or have the specific skills.
The studying route would mean you have to either complete a Certificate IV in Celebrancy or a qualification in celebrancy awarded at a university specified in the Marriage Determination 2018.
The skills route would require you to meet specific criteria in celebrancy including fluncey in an Australian Indigenous Language, the ability to work with clients and members of the indigenous community if appropriate, when planning a marriage ceremony. Other skills needed would be effective communication and the ability to conduct a marriage ceremony and complete all required documentation in accordance with the Marriage Act and Marriage Regulations.
You can learn more about the rules and requirements to become a marriage celebrant from the Marriage (Celebrancy Qualifications or Skills) Determination of 2018.
A marriage celebrant cannot discriminate against marrying a couple based on race, religion, sex or gender. And marriage celebrants are required to complete ongoing professional development.
Commonwealth-registered religious marriage celebrants
The Commonwealth-registered religious celebrants need to complete or meet the same requirements as the regular marriage celebrants, but they also need to be a minister within their religion. The main difference for commonwealth-registered religious marriage celebrants that they are allowed to refuse to marry couples practicing another religion.
Ministers of religion
A minister of a recognised religious denomination who is registered with the registry of births, deaths and marriages in their state or territory is allowed to marry a couple. These ministers are managed by their state or territory’s regulations and their religious organisation.
State and territory officers
A state or territory officer can perform non-religious marriage ceremonies (civil ceremonies). These officers are regulated by the registry of births, deaths and marriages in their state or territory.
You can learn more about these four types of marriage celebrants here.
What role does a JP play in marriage?
A Justice of the Peace cannot marry a couple. However they can play a crucial role by witnessing signatures and certifying true copies of the documents and paperwork needed to apply for and file your marriage licence.
Regardless, JP’s are required to undertake training prior to applying for appointment. If you are looking to become a Justice of the Peace (Qualified) in QLD, view our course here or contact us for more information.