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 Complain about a marriage celebrant

How to complain about a marriage celebrant, and how we handle your complaint.

On this page:

Before you complain about a marriage celebrant
What you can complain about
How we handle your complaint
Download a complaint form

Before you complain about a marriage celebrant

We only handle complaints about Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants. This includes religious marriage celebrants.

To complain about a minister of religion of a recognised religious denomination, contact:

  • their church
  • the registry of births, deaths and marriages in their state or territory

Before you complain, try to resolve the matter with the celebrant.

What you can complain about

You can complain if a marriage celebrant has broken the rules in the:

We can’t make a celebrant refund money. If your complaint is about money, you should get advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Some examples of valid complaints include:

  • the marriage celebrant was unprofessional
  • they did not respect your privacy
  • they made mistakes on the paperwork
  • they didn’t submit documents to the registry of births, deaths and marriages on time
  • they didn’t make sure the people getting married could give, or had given, real consent to the marriage

Resources for marriage celebrants has information that may help you decide if a celebrant has broken the rules.

How we handle your complaint

You must make your complaint within three months of first becoming aware of the problem. You must use the complaint form.

We will tell you in writing when we receive your complaint.

We will then:

Review the complaint

When we review the complaint we may need to ask you for more information.

Once we have all the information, we will tell you if we have decided to:

  • not deal with the complaint because it lacks merit
  • refer the complaint to a more appropriate department
  • investigate the complaint more

We may not deal with the complaint if:

  • it was not made on the approved form
  • it is not about the solemnisation of marriage by a marriage celebrant
  • it is frivolous, vexatious, misconceived, lacking in substance or is not in good faith
  • the complainant does not have sufficient interest
  • the complaint is not made within 3 months
  • the substance of the complaint has been previously heard
  • the complaint is the subject of other processes
  • the complaint would more appropriately be dealt with by another body.

Investigate

We will send a copy of your complaint to the marriage celebrant and ask them to respond. It will not contain your contact details.

After we receive their response we will decide if we should take further action.

Respond

We will tell the marriage celebrant what we have decided and why.

Sometimes we may:

  • give the celebrant a warning
  • require the celebrant to do more training
  • suspend the celebrant’s registration
  • deregister the celebrant

We will generally only take disciplinary action against the celebrant if there has been a serious or ongoing breach of the Marriage Act 1961 or Marriage Regulations 2017.

When it is finalised, we will tell you the outcome of your complaint.

How we treat your personal information

We take care to meet our privacy obligations under:

  • the Privacy Act 1988
  • the Australian Privacy Principles
  • our privacy policy

We will only use your personal information to manage a complaint about a marriage celebrant.

Sometimes the information you give us may be released to the public if we receive a Freedom of Information request. We will only release your personal information if you agree or required by law.

Information about how we treat your personal information is in the complaint form. If you have concerns, you should contact our Privacy Officer.

Download a complaint form

Complete this form to complain about a registered marriage celebrant:

You can make an anonymous complaint. But this may mean we can’t investigate if we need more information from you.

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