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How & Why Register Your Domestic/De Facto Relationship In Australia?

Updated: May 9

What is De Facto Relationship?

In simple terms, you are in a de facto relationship (also known as civil partnership or domestic relationship) with your "life partner" if you are not legally married to him/her.

If you are applying for an Australian visa that requires you to prove your domestic relationship with your partner, one way of doing so is by registering your domestic relationship in Australia. These visas, for example, include an Australian Partner visa, a General Skilled visa, a Student visa, etc.

Who Is Legally Married?

You are legally married to your spouse if your marriage is recognised as valid and registered by the government authorities in the country where your marriage was solemnised. A government-issued marriage certificate is the evidence of your valid legal marriage.

Status of A 'Religious Marriage' and Registering A Domestic Relationship In Australia

Where an unauthorised marriage celebrant (such as an unauthorised religious cleric, an Imam, a Sheikh, a "Murabi", a "Nazir", a preist, etc.) has solemnised your marriage or your marriage is not registered/recognised by the government of the country in which your 'marriage' was solemnised, then again, you should consider getting your domestic relationship registered in Australia (if it does not satisfy the 12-months-de-facto-relationship requirement).

(An example of a 'religious marriage' may be Muslim 'Nikah'. Unless a 'Nikah' is registered and recognised by the government, it is not necessarily recognised as evidence of 'legal marriage' in Australia for Migration Act 1958 purposes).

It is because religious marriages (which are not legally recognised) are considered informal religious unions (i.e., more like de facto relationships) in Australia. For a marriage to be recognised as valid/legal in Australia, it must be recognised as valid/legal by the relevant government authorities in the country where the celebrant solemnised the marriage.

How To Prove Domestic Relationship In Australia?

A de facto/domestic relationship may be proved without registering your de facto relationship in Australia if you and your partner have been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months. You do not necessarily need to live together to prove your relationship. However, you must be able to provide sufficient evidence of the genuineness of your de facto relationship to satisfy the immigration visa/case officer.

But if you have been in a de facto relationship for less than 12 months with your partner, you can overcome the 12-months-de-facto-relationship-requirement by registering your de facto relationship in Australia. You can register your relationship in most Australian states. You will still need evidence to satisfy the visa/case officer about the genuineness of your de facto relationship.

Australian States That Allow De Facto Relationship Registration

You can register your de facto relationship in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory.

Registering a de facto relationship is relatively easy and inexpensive. For example, an online application for registration may be completed in less than an hour, if the parties have their basic information and ID documents readily available.

You can find the relevant registering authority in your state by googling 'register a de facto relationship in [your state]' or 'register a domestic relationship in [your state]'.

For instance, in Victoria, Births Deaths, And Marriages Victoria registers domestic relationships. To register your de facto relationship in New South Wales, you can go to the NSW Government's website and click on the Family & Relationship link.

(Different terms are used to refer to de facto relationship on these websites, for example, 'domestic relationship', 'civil union', or 'significant relationship' etc.)

Eligibility For De Facto Relationship Registration

Registration processes and eligibility requirements for registration are similar in most Australian states that allow de facto relationship registration. De facto partners can register their relationship irrespective of whether they are a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple.

However, you cannot register your de facto relationship, for instance, if you are:

  • legally married (to your 'partner' or someone else)

  • in another de facto relationship

  • your de facto relationship is registered in another Australian state

  • if you fall within the prohibited category of relationships (for example, if you are closely related to your partner by family, i.e., brother, sister, parent)

  • under 18 years of age

Registration of Domestic Relationship & Australian Family Law

Before registering your de facto relationship in Australia, you must understand that, like a legally married husband or wife, your de facto partner will also have certain rights under Australian Family Law . For instance, your de facto partner may be able to claim a share in your property and other assets and institute proceedings in a Family Court for receiving maintenance. If that may raise concerns for you, you should contact us to seek legal advice before registering your domestic / de facto relationship.

Need to discuss your visa options with an Immigration Lawyer? You can book an appointment here.

De Facto Relationship Australia
How To Register De Facto Relationship in Australia

Warning! No information provided on this website in relation to Australian laws, policies, procedures, directions (or any other matter) is intended to be legal advice for anyone. You must seek legal advice on issues specific to your situation and circumstances. Please read our Terms and Conditions.


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