If you choose not to register your relationship, your relationship may still be recognised for some purposes, such as:
- Applying for Legal Aid
- Social Security Payments and Benefits
- Reproductive technologies
- Parenting Orders
- Child Support
- Intervention Orders
- Agreements about property
- Stamp Duty
- Criminal Code
For other purposes, however, your relationship must generally have existed for a period of one, two or three years, to be recognised, and a declaration of your relationship may be necessary.
Below are some of the most common time requirements for recognition and the purposes to which they apply.
One year for recognition: migration (Migration Act)
Two years for recognition: property disputes (Family Law Act)
Three years for recognition: State law matters, including
- Inadequate provision in a will
- Where there is no will
- Death caused by a negligent act
- Superannuation under a State scheme
- Death caused by crime
- Workplace death
- Entering into a surrogacy agreement
NOTE: if there is a child of the relationship, the relevant time period may not be required and a relationship of any length will be recognised.
Please see De facto relationships for more information about these time requirements.
For further comparison of unregistered de facto relationships, registered relationships and marriage, see also the table below.
Unregistered de facto relationships, registered relationships and marriage compared
|Unregistered de facto relationship||Registered Relationship||Marriage|
|Application/Notice of commencing relationship lodged with||N/A||Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages||Authorised celebrant|
|When relationship commences/may commence||N/A||28 days later||One month later|
|Fee for registration||N/A||$108||N/A|
Death; Marriage; Revocation
|Death; Separation and divorce|
|Requirements of ending||Separation||
Application setting out that a party wishes to revoke the registration
If there is no separation, the relationship may continue as an unregistered de facto relationship
|Application setting out that the marriage has broken down irretrievably evidenced by 12 months separation|
|Application to end relationship lodged with||N/A||Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages||Federal Circuit Court|
|When end takes effect||Upon separation||90 days after application to revoke registration, but marriage can otherwise end a registered relationship sooner||1 month after divorce order|
|Fee for ending||N/A||$108||$865; reduced fee $290|
Recognition for various purposes
|Migration||Yes, after 1 year, child or waiver||Yes||Yes|
|Property Settlement||Yes, after 2 years, child or waiver||Yes||Yes|
|Where there is no will||Yes, after 3 years, child or declaration*||Yes||Yes|
|Inadequate provision in a will||Yes, after 3 years, child or declaration*||Yes||Yes|
|Consent to medical treatment||Yes, after 3 years, child or declaration*||Yes||Yes|
|Nationwide recognition||Yes, but varying requirements for recognition||No, registered relationships are not yet recognised in WA or NT||Yes|
*These requirements for recognition apply in SA only: requirements may vary from State to State.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.