The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.M.120 Member of a couple


This definition applies to all payments and is used to determine if a person is paid the partnered or single rate of payment, which income and asset tests are applicable and qualification for PP.

Definition: member of a couple

Under the SSAct, a person is a member of a couple if they are in a relationship with another person as their partner and are not living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis and are either:

  • legally married
  • in a registered relationship, or
  • in a de facto relationship.
    Note: Both people must be over the age of consent (applicable to the relevant state or territory) and not in a prohibited relationship (1.1.P.443) to be considered a de facto relationship.

When required, 5 factors are considered when determining whether a member of a couple relationship exists (

  • the financial aspects of the relationship
  • the nature of the household
  • the social aspects of the relationship
  • any sexual relationship between the people, and
  • the nature of the people's commitment to each other.

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 …, section 4(6) Member of a couple - special excluding determination, section 4(6A) A person who …, section 24 Person may be treated as not being a member of a couple …, section 4(12) and section 4(13) Prohibited relationship

Policy reference: SS Guide Types of member of a couple relationships, Member of a couple - age of consent, Determining member of a couple relationships, Discretion to treat a person as not being a member of a couple for a special reason - section 24

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