Relationships register in New South Wales
The Relationships Register in New South Wales is a database of couples who want legal recognition for their relationship.
Since 1 July 2010, when the Relationships Register Act 2010 (NSW) was introduced, all couples, including same-sex couples in New South Wales have been able to formally register their relationship with the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) was amended with the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act 2008. It provides de facto couples with the ability to access the Federal Family Court in the exact same way that married couples can, in the event that their relationship breaks down.
If your relationship does break down and a property settlement matter is taken to Court, then you must be honest with the Court. This means disclosing any information about your financial circumstances; including any income and property.
The advantage of registering your relationship is that it helps you prove to the Court that your relationship exists. If you are unable to prove that a de facto relationship exists, the Family Court may not have jurisdiction to hear your matter. Having a registered relationship would make it clear to the Family Court that there is a relationship and therefore the Court would have jurisdiction to hear and resolve your property or parenting matters.
Who can register their relationship?
Both unmarried same-sex or opposite sex couples can register their relationship in NSW.
If you register your relationship in NSW, it will be recognised as a de facto relationship. This means that you can access certain services that only those in de facto relationships can.
After registering your relationship, some service providers may accept the registration of your relationship as proof that it is a genuine relationship.
What is a de facto relationship?
A de facto relationship is a domestic relationship where you and your partner live together as a couple but are not married.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) subsection 4AA says that a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:
- the persons are not legally married to eachother; and
- the persons are not related by family; and
- having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.
Why should you register your relationship?
Registering your relationship makes it easier to prove that you are in a de facto relationship. It gives your relationship legal recognition and can make it easier when dealing with government agencies such as Centrelink or the ATO; or other issues such as superannuation, your will, or property.
In the unfortunate event that your relationship breaks down and you end up in the Family Court, you would need to establish that there was a de facto relationship for the Court to have jurisdiction to hear and resolve your matter. If your relationship was registered, the Court would see this as a clear indicator that there was a genuine de facto relationship and therefore the Court would have jurisdiction to assist the parties with the property matter.
Also, when you make an Australian visa application, you may need to prove that you are in a genuine domestic relationship. Registering your relationship can make it easier to prove that you live together on a genuine domestic basis, when applying for partner visas, or other visas.
Do you have to register a de facto relationship?
No, you do not have to register your relationship. Registering your relationship can however make it easier when dealing with various government agencies such as the ATO or Centrelink. It can also make it easier to deal with property settlement and parenting matters if the relationship breaks down. It means that you have proof that the relationship exists. It is not, however, mandatory to register a de facto relationship.
What happens if a couple does not live together?
If you do not live together, you can still register your relationship in New South Wales.
Under some legislation, a registered relationship may be treated in the same way as a de facto relationship.
How do you register a relationship in NSW?
You can apply to the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages to register your relationship. When you register your relationship, you can either do so, with, or without the inclusion of a ceremony.
Below, you will find the criteria you need to meet to qualify to register your relationship.
Anyone over the age of 18, can apply to register their relationship as long as at least one of the parties to the relationship, resides in NSW.
Before you apply to register your relationship in NSW, you must:
- be at least 18 years of age;
- not be married to each other or anyone else;
- not already in a registered relationship under the Relationships Register Act 2010 (NSW);
- not be in a relationship with another person;
- not already be related through family.
You do not need to live together to register your relationship.
How to apply
You will need to access the Application to register a relationship form from the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.
After you have filled out the application form, you will need to send it, along with proof of identity, and proof of residency, to the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages, along with the application fee. You can also visit a Service NSW service centre to file the application.
Any proof of identity documents must be the originals. Copies, certified copies or laminated documents will not be accepted.
You will need to supply a recent rates notice, lease agreement or recent utility account with your current NSW residential address. A post office box will not be accepted as proof of your residential address.
You have the option of ordering a commemorative certificate design in addition to the standard relationship certificate.
You will need to pay the application fee, which in August 2021, is $223.
The Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages can also perform relationship ceremonies. If you wish to have a ceremony at the Registry venue, then you have the option to pay $407. This includes the registration fee ($223 including the standard certificate), the ceremony and a ceremonial certificate issued on the day ($184).
If you would like a letter confirming that the application has been lodged you will need to pay an extra $41.
Accepted forms of identification
The Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages will accept the following forms of identification when you apply to register your relationship.
You will need to supply proof of identity and address from each of the following categories. If you cannot supply proof of identity from category 1, you will need to supply one form from category 2, and two from category 3.
– Australian birth certificate
– Australian citizenship certificate
– New Zealand citizenship certificate
– Certificate of Registration by Descent
– Australian driver’s licence
– Australian passport
– Firearms licence
– Foreign passport
– Proof of age card/photo ID card
– Medicare card
– Private health care card
– Centrelink pensioner concession card
– Australian Department of Veteran Affairs card
– Security licence
– Student or tertiary education ID card.
– Council rates notice that was issued in the last 12 months
– Recent utility account bill issued in the last three months
– Lease agreement.
Same sex couples
Same-sex couples have the right to get married, as per the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 (Cth), however, if they do not wish to then they can register their same-sex domestic relationship.
Things to keep in mind
You will need to get your relationship registration application form witnessed by an authorised witness. An authorised witness includes:
- Justice of the Peace (JP);
- Public notary;
- Legal practitioner;
- British or Australian consular officer;
- Judge or magistrate.
You will also need to make a statutory declaration stating that you:
- want to register the relationship;
- are in a genuine relationship with the other person;
- are not married or in a relationship with another person, they are not related to as family;
- are not in another registered relationship in NSW, or another jurisdiction; and
- do, or do not live in NSW (to register the relationship, at least one of you needs to live in NSW).
You do not need to live together to register your relationship.
There is a 28 day cooling off period from when the Registry receives your relationship registration application. During this timeframe, you have the option to withdraw your application if you change your mind. The fee will not be refunded if you change your mind.
After the relationship registration has been processed by the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages, you will receive your registration certificate via registered post.
Other Australian states and territories
The Relationships Act 2016 (Vic) allows anyone in a domestic relationship in Victoria the opportunity to register their relationship. One member of the couple will need to live in Victoria and you will need to supply proof of identity. Victoria recognises relationships that were registered in other states, territories, or overseas.
Couples in Tasmania can register their relationships under the Relationships Act 2003 (Tas).
The Relationships Register Act 2016 (SA) allows for the registration of a relationship in South Australia.
The Civil Partnerships Act 2011 (QLD) gives couples in Queensland the ability to register their relationship subject to meeting criteria.
The Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory also have relationship registries, giving you the opportunity to register your relationship.
It is important to note that when you register your relationship in Western Australia, South Australia or the Northern Territory, it is not recognised for migration purposes.
Your relationship registration will be recognised for migration purposes if you live in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
Ending a registered relationship
You can apply to revoke your registered relationship. One, or both parties to the relationship can make the application.
There is no application fee to end a registered relationship, however if you want to be issued with a certificate showing the revocation information, you will need to pay a standard certificate fee of $60.
There is a 90 day cooling off period before details of your relationship will be removed from the register.
Void registered relationships
Your relationship registration may be void if any of the following occurred:
- one of the parties to the relationship registration did not genuinely agree – their consent was obtained by fraud, under duress or other invalid means;
- one of the parties was mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the registration;
- the relationship was not permitted (i.e. one of the parties was already married, or under the age of 18).
Further information and resources
The below resources will help you if you want to register a relationship or revoke a registered relationship.
- Services NSW – Register a relationship.
- Births Deaths and Marriages NSW
- Family Court of Australia
- Relationships Register Act 2010 (NSW)
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