1.1.M.120 Member of a couple


This definition applies to all payments.

Definition: member of a couple

A person is a member of a couple under the SSAct if they have 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 (

Note: On 8 December 2017, the Marriage Act 1961 was amended to redefine marriage as 'a union of 2 people' and introduced non-gendered language so that the requirements of the Act apply equally to all marriages. It also enabled same-sex marriages that have been, or will be, solemnised under the law of a foreign country to be recognised in Australia.

In determining if a person is in a member of a couple relationship, consideration must be given to the following 5 factors:

  • 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.

The DSS Secretary can determine that a person should not be considered as a member of a couple for some income support payments (

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…

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