Your relationship status

If you’re a member of a couple, it can affect what payments you can get and your payment rate.


We need to know if you’re single or a member of a couple. Your relationship status can affect:

  • the type of payment you get
  • whether you can get a payment, and
  • the amount you get

Your income and assets will likely affect your payment. If you have a partner, their income and assets may also affect your payment.

Member of a couple

You’re considered a member of a couple if you have a relationship with another person as your partner and you’re:

  • married
  • in a registered relationship - opposite sex or same sex, or
  • in a de facto relationship - opposite sex or same sex

To determine if you’re a member of a couple, we may need to assess your relationship. We’ll consider the following factors:

  • financial aspects of your relationship
  • nature of your household
  • social aspects of your relationship
  • whether you have a sexual relationship
  • nature of your commitment to each other

If you tell us you’re a member of a couple, we don’t usually assess your relationship against these factors, unless your circumstances change.

We can decide you’re a member of a couple even if all of these factors aren’t present in your relationship.

If it is decided you’re a member of a couple but you believe this will result in unfair hardship, contact us. We may consider you as single under special provisions in the Social Security Act 1991. We assess each request on a case by case basis.

Relationship types

You may be married or in a registered, de facto or multiple relationship.

Registered relationship

A registered relationship is one registered under Australian state or territory law. This includes civil unions and is recognised in:

  • the Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • Tasmania, and
  • Victoria

Australian state or territory law doesn’t recognise relationships registered in other countries. However, you can still use this evidence to show you and your partner are in a de facto relationship.

De facto relationship

A de facto relationship is where you aren’t married or in a registered relationship but you have a relationship as a couple. We consider you and your partner are in a de facto relationship from the time you start living as a couple. There’s no minimum time period for a relationship to be de facto.

Multiple relationships

A multiple relationship is when you have more than 1 partner at the same time. Your relationship with each partner will be assessed separately to decide if you’re a member of a couple.

When we assess your claim for a payment, we look at each of your partners’ income and assets. We use this to decide if you’re eligible and your payment rate. The lowest payment rate will apply. Your income and assets may equally affect the rate of payment of each of your partners.

Living separately and apart

We understand living arrangements aren’t the same for all couples.

To be assessed as living separately and apart we need to confirm:

  • you and your partner are living apart permanently or indefinitely, and
  • there’s been an estrangement or breakdown in your relationship

Generally, there must be a physical as well as an emotional separation.

If it is decided you are living separately and apart, your payment will be at the single payment rate. Only your income and assets will affect your payment eligibility and rate.

Tell us about your relationships

You need to tell us when your circumstances change. This includes changes to your relationships. If you don’t, we may pay you the wrong amount and you’ll have to repay the money. There may be other penalties.

If you’re a Centrelink customer, use these forms to tell us when you start a relationship, when it changes or ends.

Download, complete and return:

If you’re separated but still live in the same house as your previous partner, complete the relationship details – separated under one roof form.

You can use the separation details form to let us know you’ve separated from your partner. You don’t need to use this form if:

  • you get Parenting Payment partnered and you want to claim Parenting Payment single, or
  • you told us you’re separated as part of a new claim for another payment

If you're single and share housing with anyone other than an immediate family member aged 16 years or older, complete the relationship details form.

Relationships and safety concerns

If you need to advise a change in your relationship and you’re concerned about your safety, there may be help we can provide. We can support you if you’re in, have left, or are preparing to leave a family and domestic violence situation.

Page last updated: 30 January 2017