Your relationship status

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

Getting payments

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
  • 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.

Having a partner

If you have a partner, we generally consider you a member of a couple. Under social security and family assistance law, we consider you a member of a couple if you’re either:

  • married
  • in a registered relationship
  • in a de facto relationship.

We don’t consider you a member of a couple if you’re 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 we consider 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 5 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 we decide you‘re a member of a couple but you believe this will cause 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.

Defining relationship types

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


Marriage is the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Read the Marriage Act on the Federal Register of Legislation website.

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
  • 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 meet both of these conditions:

  • you’re in a relationship similar to a married couple
  • you aren’t married or in a registered relationship.

There’s no minimum time period for a relationship to be de facto.

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 some things including:

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

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

If we decide 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.

Updating 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.

To tell us about a change in your relationship, you may need to complete a form. The way you tell us will depend on which payment or benefit you get.

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 all of the following:

  • name and date of birth
  • Tax File Number
  • income estimate
  • date when you both became partnered.

If you get any other payments

If you get any other Centrelink payments when you start a relationship, complete and return the partner details form.

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 either:

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

Contact our families line when you separate if you get a families payment and won’t be claiming another payment. Families payments include:

  • Family Tax Benefit
  • child care assistance.

If you’re separated and live in the same house as your ex-partner, you need to tell us. You’ll each need to 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 tell us on your form if you have any safety concerns with asking your ex-partner to complete it.

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. This includes sharing with anyone other than an immediate family member aged 16 years or older.

Getting support for relationship safety concerns

If you’re concerned about your safety, we may be able to help. We can support you if there’s a family and domestic violence situation. Talk to us if you’re in, have left, or are preparing to leave this relationship.


Page last updated: 17 July 2019

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