Proving a De facto Relationship

Proving a de facto relationship when applying for an Australian visa requires specific supporting evidence.

When you come to submit your visa application, its critical that you can establish that you and your partner are in a de facto relationship.

A de facto relationship is…
First of all, what is a de facto relationship under Australian immigration law?

You are recognised as being in a de facto relationship when you:

are living together in an exclusive relationship with your partner, but are not formally married.

Same sex couples in a de facto relationship are recognised by Australian immigration law.

When you apply for a partner visa, its critical you prove that you have been living together in an exclusive relationship with your partner. So what are the ways you can do this?

Partner visas australia

12 months of relationship evidence?

In general, to apply for a partner visa you need to show that you have lived with your partner on a permanent basis for the last 12 months from the date you submit your application. That’s 365 days – not a day less. This is known as the ‘Cohabitation Requirement’. 

Even if you can show that you have lived together for 364 days when you apply, your application is unlikely to succeed unless you can prove a full year of living together before the application is lodged.

The 12 month rule applies to most permanent and provisional Australian visas. For temporary visas, it is possible to apply with less time living together.

Are there exemptions to the 12 Month Cohabitation Requirement? 

You may be able to show that you are in a de facto relationship in some circumstances, even if you have not lived together for the full 12 months. These would include:

• Where you have registered your relationship with an Australian state or territory government; or
• There is a dependent child of the relationship; or
• You are not permitted by law in your home country to live with your partner

Evidence of ‘cohabitation’ with my partner?
How can you prove you and your partner have been living together in an exclusive relationship for the past 12 months? The most common way is to provide evidence that you share the same residential address with documents such as a:

• Property lease
• Property ownership – eg title deed, rates notice, mortgage documents
• Postal correspondence addressed to either or both of you at the same address

Travelling with my partner as Cohabitation?
If you have  been travelling with your partner for an extended period of time, in some circumstances this can be used as evidence of cohabitation.
However, it is important to show that you moved in with your partner prior to the travel taking place and have established a joint household.

Australia partner visas

What if we have spent time apart?
To prove a de facto relationship, you must show that you live together, or at least not apart on a permanent basis.
If you have started living together, but then one partner moves temporarily due to external circumstances, it may still be possible to make a successful application.
External circumstances which may be acceptable include study, work or visa issues. However, It is important to show that you maintain close contact even though you are apart.

Other evidence you need to provide
Cohabitation is only one of the factors the Department of Immigration considers in proving a de facto relationship. You would also generally need to show:

Social Interdependence

This means that you are recognised by friends and relatives as a couple. Photographs of social events spanning at least 12 months that include you and your partner with friends and relatives are good ways of demonstrating this.

Financial Interdependence

Here you need to show that you have pooled your financial resources to some extent. Joint names on utility statements or lease agreements are good ways of showing this.

What if I am still married to another person? 
If you are married, but have separated and are living with a new partner, it is possible to show that you are in a de facto relationship with your new partner.
In this case, it is important to show that your current relationship is exclusive and that your previous relationship has ceased.

Preparation is key

If you and your partner are unmarried, proving that you are in a genuine de facto relationship is essential. Assembling qualifying supporting evidence before hand is as important as providing the official statutory declarations from you, your partner and supporting witnesses, along with the character and health checks. We’re here to help you with this.

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