Definition of a partner
It is important that we know whether you are a single person or have a partner. This is sometimes called being a ‘member of a couple’. Most payments will take into account the combined income and assets of both members of a couple. Some payments have different rates, depending on whether you are single or have a partner. Some payments are only available to customers who do not have a partner.
A person is considered to be your partner if you and the person are living together or usually living together and are:
- in a registered relationship (opposite-sex or same-sex), or
- in a de facto relationship (opposite-sex or same-sex).
A registered relationship is one that is registered under prescribed Australian state or territory laws that provide for registration of certain couple relationships, including civil partnership schemes. These relationships are currently recognised in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
Relationships registered in other countries or under local government schemes are not recognised as they are not registered under a prescribed Australian state or territory law. However evidence of the registrations is a strong indicator that a couple is in a de facto relationship.
A de facto relationship is where two people, who are not married or in a registered relationship, are partnered and usually live together as a couple. You will be considered to be in a de facto relationship from the time you start living together as a couple. There is no minimum time period applied for a relationship to be regarded as de facto, except for Youth Allowance.
If you are a member of a couple, we do not usually assess your relationship. When an assessment is needed, the following factors are considered:
- social relationships
- nature of your household
- presence or absence of a sexual relationship, and
- nature of the commitment.
We understand that not all relationships are the same. Some of these factors may not be in your relationship. A decision can still be made that you are a member of a couple even if all of these factors are not present in your relationship.
If you believe that the decision to treat you as a member of a couple may cause you unfair hardship you can ask us to consider whether there is a special reason for you not to be treated as a member of a couple under Section 24 of the Social Security Act 1991. This can only be done after it has been affirmed that you are a member of couple.
Each request is assessed on a case-by-case basis. A special reason may exist if treating you as a member of a couple would result in you being unable to provide for the basic necessities of life due to an inability to pool resources with your partner as a result of circumstances that are unusual and outside your control.
If you are not treated as a member of a couple you will be paid the single rate and your partner’s income and assets will not affect your payments.