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
  • if 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

Under social security law, you’re considered a member of a couple if you and the person you have a relationship with are:

  • married
  • in a registered relationship, or
  • in a de facto relationship

You’re not considered a member of a couple if you and the person are living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis.

You may still be a member of a couple if you're not physically living with your partner. For example, your partner may fly-in-fly-out or live away for work, such as military or oil rig workers.

What is considered when assessing a member of a couple

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
  • if 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. We may look at these factors if your circumstances change.

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

Special provisions

If it’s decided you‘re a member of a couple but you believe this will result in unfair hardship, contact us on your regular payment line. 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. 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 and your partner aren’t married or in a registered relationship but you're in a relationship as a couple. We generally 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. We’ll assess your relationship with each partner 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 assess 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.

For us to assess you 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’s decided you’re 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.

Relationship changes

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 get a payment from us, use these forms to tell us about your relationship.

When you start a relationship

If you only get family payments

Contact our families line when you start a relationship if you get either or both of these payments:

  • Family Tax Benefit
  • child care assistance

You’ll need your partner’s details including:

  • name and date of birth
  • Tax File Number
  • income estimate, and
  • date became partnered

If you get any other payments

If you get any other Centrelink payments when you start a relationship, complete and return:

When you separate

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 told us you’re separated as part of a new claim for another payment, or
  • you get family payments only

Contact our families line when you separate if you won’t be claiming another payment and you get either or both of the following payments:

  • Family Tax Benefit
  • child care assistance

If you’re separated and live in the same house as your ex-partner, you each must complete and return a relationship details – separated under one roof form.

If it will put your safety at risk, your ex-partner doesn’t need to complete this form. Please note on your form any safety concerns with asking your ex-partner to complete the form.

If you’re single and share a house

You may need to complete and return the relationship details form if you're single and share housing with anyone other than an immediate family member aged 16 years or older.

Relationships and safety concerns

If you need to tell us about 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: 8 January 2018