Some Australian States and Territories have supplemented their de facto relationship laws with the introduction of relationship registers. Registers provide advantages over presumptive relationship recognition in that entering a ‘registered relationship’ provides conclusive proof of the existence of the relationship, thereby gaining all of the rights afforded to de facto couples under State and federal law without having to prove any further factual evidence of the relationship.
State relationship registration schemes allowing for same-sex and heterosexual relationship recognition currently exist in:
· Tasmania (Relationships Act 2003)
· Victoria (Relationships Act 2008)
· New South Wales (Relationships Register Act 2010)
· The Australian Capital Territory (Civil Partnerships Act 2008)
· Queensland (the Civil Partnerships Act 2011)
The detail of these schemes varies. For example the Victorian and Tasmanian registration schemes allow both for registration of domestic relationships and for caring relationships to be recognised. The ACT, Tasmania and New South Wales schemes each recognise other’s state registered schemes, however Victoria does not. All registers allow for the recognition of a registered relationship to be revoked. Revocation, while similar to divorce, is arguably easier to obtain.
At federal level registration of a relationship at State or Territory level is also conclusive proof of the existence of a de facto relationship.
Olivia Rundle in her article ‘An examination of relationship registration schemes in Australia’ identifies the practical benefits arising from the outcome of registration of a marriage, civil partnership, deed of relationship or relationship as conclusive proof that:
- The parties have entered a legally recognised personal relationship; and
- That their relationship continues until it is formally ended by death, divorce, revocation or other means.
Rundle further identifies the advantages of being able to prove the existence of a relationship includes:
- Being able to demonstrate next of kin status in medical emergencies;
- Not being put in a position of having to prove the existence of the relationship in any disputes with third parties or between the parties to the relationship;
- Having a means of satisfying agencies such as government departments, superannuation companies, funeral directors or others that there is or was a personal significant relationship between the parties; and
- An opportunity to secure legal recognition without needing to establish that the relationship is sufficiently ‘marriage like’ under the presumptive provisions.
While WA does not have a relationship register, you should consider registering your relationship if you live in Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT or Queensland.
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.