2.2.5.13 Registered Relationships

Summary

A person is considered to be in a registered relationship with another person if the relationship is registered under a law of a state or territory in Australia prescribed for the purposes of section 2E of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901. This means registered relationships are only recognised for social security purposes if they are registered under the Acts Interpretation (Registered Relationships) Regulations 2008.

For section 2E of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, the following laws and kinds of relationships are prescribed:

  • Relationships Act 2008 (Vic.) - a registered domestic relationship as defined in section 3 of that Act,
  • Relationships Act 2003 (Tas.) - a significant relationship as defined in section 4 of that Act,
  • Civil Unions Act 2012 (ACT) - a civil union as described in subsection 6(1) of that Act,
  • Domestic Relationships Act 1994 (ACT) - a relationship as a couple between 2 adult persons who meet the eligibility criteria for entering into a civil partnership mentioned in section 37C of that Act,
  • Relationships Register Act 2010 (NSW) - section 5(1) 2 adults who are in a relationship as a couple may apply to the Registrar for registration of their relationship,
  • Civil Partnerships Act 2011 (Qld) - 2 adults who are in a relationship as a couple who meet the eligibility criteria as stated in section 5 of that Act may enter into a registered relationship by having their relationship registered under section 9(1)(a),
  • Relationships Register Act 2016 (SA) - a relationship as a couple between 2 adults who meet the eligibility criteria mentioned in section 5 of that Act for entry into a registered relationship.

Registered relationships may also be known in particular state and territories as civil unions, civil partnerships and significant relationships.

Exclusion

The provisions of Australian state and territory laws that provide for registration of 'caring' or 'interdependent' relationships will not be recognised as kinds of relationships that will be taken to be a registered relationship.

Definition of a member of a couple

A person is a member of a couple under the SSAct if they are in a relationship with another person, where both people are over the age of consent (applicable to the relevant state or territory), are committed to each other on a permanent or indefinite basis, are not in a prohibited relationship (subsections 4(12) and 4(13)), and are either:

  • legally married, or
  • in a registered relationship, or
  • in a de facto relationship (2.2.5.10).

Act reference: SSAct section 4(12) to section 4(13) Prohibited relationship

Overseas registered relationships

Registered relationships that are issued in other countries are not recognised for Australian social security purposes as they are not registered under a law of a state or territory in Australia prescribed for the purposes of section 2E of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.

However, if overseas registrations are produced as evidence, they will be viewed as a strong indicator that the people registered are in a de facto relationship.

Local government registered relationships

Registered relationships in Australia that are not registered under a law of a state or territory in Australia prescribed for the purposes of section 2E of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (e.g. City of Sydney registry), are not recognised for social security purposes.

However, if local government registrations are produced as evidence, they will be viewed as a strong indicator that the people registered are in a de facto relationship.

Revoking a registered relationship

People who have a relationship registered under either the Relationships Act 2008 (Vic.), Relationships Act 2003 (Tas.), Civil Unions Act 2012 (ACT), Relationships Register Act 2016 (SA), or the Relationship Register Act 2010 (NSW) are able to lodge an application to revoke the relationship.

However, if a person has not revoked their registered relationship this does not, of itself, indicate that the relationship is ongoing and has not ceased.

Act reference: SSAct section 4(2) Member of a couple-general, section 4(3) Member of a couple-criteria for forming opinion about relationship, section 4(3A) The Secretary must not form the opinion…

Policy reference: SS Guide 2.2.5.10 Determining a De Facto Relationship

Last reviewed: 20 March 2018