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

Your relationship status, if you’re single or a member of a couple, 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. We consider you a member of a couple if you’re either:

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

We may still consider you 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, like military or oil rig workers.

What to do if your partner asks you to confirm your relationship status

If your partner is making a new claim for an income support payment, we need to know their relationship status. This means they may need you to confirm your relationship status for us.

If they ask you to do this, there are 2 options available, depending on the situation. The online claim will tell your partner which option you can use.

You can use either:

If you can use the Partner Confirmation Logon service online, you’ll need a Reference Number and Access Code. Your partner can give you these.

If your partner uses 1 of our paper claim forms, we may contact you to confirm your relationship with them.

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:

  • 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 things. But we may look at them if your circumstances change.

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

What special provisions are

If you think being a member of a couple causes you unfair hardship, call 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’re married, in a registered or de facto relationship.

What marriage is

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.

What a registered relationship is

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
  • South Australia.

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.

What a de facto relationship is

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’re not 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. We may decide you’re separated if you’re living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis. 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 and 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 start a relationship and get any Centrelink payments or concession cards, complete and return the partner details form.

When you separate

You need to tell us if you separate from your partner. You may be able to tell us using your Centrelink online account through myGov. You can do it this way if you get 1 of the following payments:

You can use the separation details form if you can’t tell us online. You don’t need to use this form if you told us you’re separated as part of a new payment claim.

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

  • Family Tax Benefit
  • Child Care Subsidy.

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.

When you’re single and share accommodation

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.

The person you share with will also need to complete and return the relationship details form. They don’t need to do this if it puts your safety at risk. Tell us on the form if you have safety concerns.

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: 25 January 2021