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This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom - Content Editor - Brisbane

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

Registering a Relationship


A de facto relationship is a relationship between two people who are not married but are living together on a genuine domestic basis. Many de facto relationships are never registered but are recognised by government bodies such as Centrelink and the ATO as well as by the courts. However, in some states and territories, it is possible to register a relationship with the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This gives a couple a way to prove they are in a relationship for legal purposes as well as formally expressing their commitment to each other.

It is important to note that the eligibility requirements for registering a relationship are different from the requirements for a relationship to be recognised as a de facto relationship under the Family Law Act 1975. This article outlines the processes and requirements for registering a relationship in different jurisdictions.

Why register a relationship?

Registering a relationship makes it simpler to prove that you are in a relationship for the purposes of tax, superannuation, Centrelink and other government payments.  If a relationship is registered, the parties will not have to provide any other proof that the relationship exists for any of these purposes.

A relationship that is registered in one state or territory may or may not be recognised in other jurisdictions, depending on whether the jurisdiction has laws that recognise relationships registered in other states and territories.

Registering a relationship in Queensland

In Queensland, a couple can register their relationship as a civil partnership with the Queensland government under the Civil Partnerships Act 2011. To do so, both partners must be aged over 18 and at least one of them must be resident in Queensland.  In order to be eligible to register a relationship, a person must provide identification, not be in another relationship, and understand the legal effects of a civil partnership.

The couple does not have to be living together to register a relationship. There is a 10-day cooling-off period after the filing of an application until the relationship is registered.

A Queensland civil partnership ends when a partner dies or marries. It can also be ended by a court order.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, a couple can register their relationship with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages if they are over 18, not related, are not married or in another relationship and at least one of them lives in New South Wales. Relationship registration in NSW is governed by the Relationships Register Act 2010. An application can be made online or by mail. A 28-day cooling off period applies.

Registration is revoked when a partner dies or marries. It can also be revoked on application by a partner. There is a 90-day cooling off period on a revocation application.

Victoria

A couple can register a relationship in Victoria under the Relationships Act 2008. To be eligible, the couple must:

  • Both be aged over 18;
  • Not already be married or in a registered relationship;
  • Be providing domestic support to each other;
  • Be committed to each other personally and financially.

An application must include a statutory declaration from each partner stating that they consent to the registration and are not in another relationship. They must attach evidence of their age and identity. A 28-day cooling-off period applies after the submission of an application to register a relationship.

The registration is revoked when a partner dies, marries or applies for the registration to be revoked.

South Australia

In South Australia, a couple can register their relationship with the Consumer and Business Services (CBS) under the Relationships Register Act 2016. A couple is eligible if they are both over 18, not related and not in another relationship and at least one of the members is living in South Australia.

When an application is made, identification must be provided for both partners as well as evidence that one of them is living in South Australia. If either party has previously been married or in a registered relationship, proof must be provided that the earlier relationship has ended. Both parties must then complete a statutory declaration. A 28-day cooling off period applies.

The registration of a relationship in South Australia is revoked when one partner dies, marries or applies for the registration to be revoked.

ACT

In the ACT, a civil partnership can be registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages under the Domestic Relationships Act 1994. A person is eligible to enter into a civil partnership if they are an adult, not in another relationship and not related to the other party. One of the partners must be living in the ACT. Proof of identification and of residency must be provided with an application.

A civil partnership is terminated when a partner dies or marries or when the partners enter into a civil union. It may also be terminated on application by one or both parties or by an order by the Supreme Court.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, a couple can register their relationship under the Relationships Act 2003 if they are both over 18, are in a relationship but not married, are both living in Tasmania and not related to each other.

An application must be accompanied by a statutory declaration by each party as well as proof of identity and age. Each party must also lodge a certificate from a  legal practitioner stating that they have received independent legal advice on the effects of registration of the relationship.

A deed of relationship is revoked when a partner dies, marries or applies for the deed to be revoked. It may also be revoked by order of a court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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