Member of a couple - age of consent


If a benefit claimant/recipient is living in a de facto relationship with another person either of the same sex or a different sex and one or both partners are under the age of consent in the state in which they live, they are not classified as partnered. However the person is to receive the partnered rate. The income and assets tests apply to all claimants/recipients in this situation as though they were a couple.

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, and are either:

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

Note: For determining if a person is in a member of a couple relationship in situations where they have separated and remain living under one roof please refer to

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


Social security law does not provide for an age of consent. However, the concept is relevant to determining whether a person is a 'member of a couple'. For this purpose, social security law refers to state and territory law to determine what the age of consent is for the purposes of the definition of 'member of a couple'.

Further information on age of consent including a table of ages for each state, can be found at

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 Determining a de facto relationship, Registered relationships, Determining separation under one roof, De facto relationships (YA & DSP)

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