Skip to content

MAFS breakups – were they even legally married and do they need to get divorced?

MAFS breakups – were they even legally married and do they need to get divorced

Co-authored by Isabel Strahan


  • The concept of Married at First Sight revolves around couples meeting each other on their wedding day.
  • However, the couples are never legally married due to not fulfilling the requirements under the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) and Marriage Regulations 2017.
  • Due to the participants not being considered legally married, they do not have to file for a divorce or an annulment at the conclusion of their relationship.


The buzz surrounding the MAFS reunion has sparked debate regarding the legality of the TV marriages and whether the participants of the experiment need to go through the official divorce process at the completion of the show.

Whilst the concept of MAFS relies on strangers marrying each other and developing a relationship whilst tackling the hurdles of a new marriage, the participants are never actually married in the eyes of the law.

Are the participants eligible to be married in Australia?

Within Australia, the legislation that determines whether someone is eligible to be married is found within the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) and Marriage Regulations 2017. These acts stipulate that for someone to be lawfully married in Australia they must adhere to the following:

  1. Not be currently married,
  2. Not be marrying someone that is prohibited by law for example a family relative,
  3. Be 18 years of age or if under 18 have court approval,
  4. Freely agree to the marriage,
  5. Give a notice of the intended marriage at least 1 month prior to the wedding and no more than 18 months before, and
  6. Be married by an official celebrant.

Married at First Sight being labelled as “weddings”

Despite the weddings on MAFS being labelled as “weddings” and the concept of ‘marriage’ being referred to in every episode, the couples do not fulfil these requirements. Therefore, the participants are not considered legally wed.

Due to the couples not being eligible to wed, if a marriage license was signed, they may be able to seek an annulment. An annulment requires a degree of nullity as detailed in section 52 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). In order to file for an annulment, one party to the marriage must be an Australian citizen, live in Australia, or consider Australia their permanent home for 12 months. For an annulment to be awarded, one of the following situations must be made out to the Court:

  1. Bigamy,
  2. A marriage of a prohibited relationship,
  3. The marriage ceremony declared invalid,
  4. There being a lack of consent to the marriage, or
  5. One or more of the parties being underage.

What are the requirements when seeking a divorce?

So long as your marriage meets the above-mentioned eligibility requirements, a divorce may be available for you. In order to file for divorce in Australia you must regard Australia as your home or intend to live here indefinitely, be a citizen, or live in Australia for 12 months following filing for divorce.

A married couple who has lived apart for 12 months and in circumstances where there is no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life will be able to file for divorce and separate from their partner on a final basis.

Due to MAFS marriages not adhering to the abovementioned conditions, the only legal obligation the participants owe is found within the production contract and therefore, they are not required to file for divorce.


Lara Menon

Lara joined the Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers Legal team in August 2018 and is currently working as a Lawyer in our Criminal and Family Law team.

Earlier in 2019, Lara was selected by the NSW Law Society to undertake an internship with the NSW Coroner’s Court, working as a Judge’s Associate for the Deputy State Coroner.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Lara Menon
Senior Associate
1300 268 887


Isabel Strahan

Isabel joined the Coutts team in January 2022, as a Paralegal working within our Family & Criminal teams. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in International Relations and Minoring in Cultural Studies at the University of Wollongong. It is her dedication and hardworking nature that will see her go far within Coutts.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Isabel Strahan
1300 268 887

Contact Coutts today.

This blog is merely general and non-specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

Contact Us