Your relationship status

Defining you and your partner as a couple can affect your eligibility or payment rate for our payments and services.

Payments

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

  • the type of payment you get
  • your eligibility for a payment, and
  • the amount you get

Most of our payments also take into account your income and assets. If you’re partnered, your partner’s income and assets will also be taken into account.

Member of a couple

You’re considered as a member of a couple if you live with or usually live with another person as your partner and you’re:

  • married, or
  • in a registered relationship - opposite sex or same sex, or
  • in 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 5 factors:

  • financial aspects of your relationship
  • nature of your household
  • social aspects of your relationship
  • presence or absence of a sexual relationship, and
  • nature of your commitment to each other

If you already identify as a member of a couple we don’t usually assess your relationship against the 5 factors, unless your circumstances change.

We understand not all couples are the same. Some of these factors may not be present in your relationship. A decision can still be made that 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. Depending on your circumstances, you may be considered as single under special provisions in the Social Security Act 1991. Each request is assessed on a case by case basis.

Relationship types

When we assess your payment eligibility the income and assets tests may apply to you and your partner. If eligible, you may get the partnered rate of payment.

Registered relationship

A registered relationship is one that is registered under Australian state or territory law. Registered relationships also include, but are not limited to, civil unions. Registered relationships are currently recognised in:

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

Relationships registered in other countries aren’t recognised under Australian state or territory law. However, you can still use this evidence to show you and your partner are a couple in a de facto relationship.

De facto relationship

A de facto relationship is where 2 people who aren’t married or in a registered relationship live together, or usually live together as a couple. We consider you and your partner are 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 seen as 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 determine if you’re a member of a couple.

When we assess your claim for a payment, the income and assets of each of your partners will be used to determine your eligibility and payment rate. The lowest payable rate will be applied. Your income and assets may equally affect the rate of payment of each of your partners.

Living separately and apart

We understand that 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 either permanently or indefinitely, and
  • there’s been an estrangement or breakdown in your relationship

Generally, a physical separation as well as an emotional separation is required.

If you and your partner are assessed as living separately and apart, your payment eligibility will be assessed on only your income and assets. Your payment rate will be at the single payment rate.

Tell us about your relationships

You need to tell us when your circumstances change, including changes to your relationships. If you don’t you may be paid the wrong amount and have to repay the money. Other penalties may also apply.

If you’re a Centrelink customer use these forms to tell us when you start a relationship, or 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’re receiving Parenting Payment partnered and you want to claim Parenting Payment single, or
  • you’ve already told us you’re separated as part of a new claim for another payment

Page last updated: 21 September 2016