Planning on getting hitched soon?

Better check you're not still married to someone else.

Figures released by the Department of Internal Affairs show the second most common reason people have objected to a marriage application being filed in New Zealand in the past six years is that one or both of the soon-to-be happy couple are still in a current marriage.

Anyone who thinks there's a good legal reason for a couple not to get married or enter into a civil union has the option of objecting to the couple receiving a marriage licence by lodging a caveat or notice of objection at a registry office.


The DIA's figures show that between the start of 2011 and March 10 this year, a total of 26 caveats have been lodged against potential marriages, though one of these caveats was later withdrawn by the person who lodged it.

Of those 26 caveats, nine related to one of the parties still being in a current marriage.

The most common reason for lodging a caveat was to do with one or both members of the couple having insufficient mental capacity to get married. There were 12 cases of this being raised in the last six years.

The remaining five caveats were lodged for various reasons, the DIA said.

"When a notice of intended marriage is lodged with a Registrar, the parties are advised if an existing caveat against their intended marriage has been lodged," a DIA spokeswoman said.

"The parties may opt to either not proceed with their applications for a marriage licence, or have the matter referred to the nearest Family Court for decision."

The department keeps no record of how many couples withdrew their marriage licence application upon finding out there was a caveat against it, but confirmed there had been no marriage licence applications refused in the past six years.

There have been two occasions since the start of 2011 where the matter has been referred to the Family Court for consideration.

"In one case, the caveat was discharged and a marriage licence issued," the spokeswoman said.

In the second case, the judge requested medical evidence to support the intended marriage, and the matter is still pending a decision from the Family Court.

Objecting to a marriage these days is a far cry from the stereotypical movie scene in which a person rushes forward mid-ceremony, yelling "I object!"

The objector must pay $51.10 to lodge the caveat at a registry office, and must include their reasons, full name, and address.

If the court thinks the objection is invalid, it will be cancelled, and the objector may be ordered to pay compensation to the couple if the objection seems unreasonable or intended to annoy or distress the couple.

There have been no notices of objection filed against civil unions in the last six years.