skip to content
Law Handbook banner image

Should we just get married?

A registered relationship is similar to marriage in that it provides automatic recognition for various legal purposes in South Australia. However, there are two main differences between them.

The first is that marriage can provide recognition both interstate and internationally.

The second is that marriage cannot end as quickly or abruptly as a registered relationship. A marriage cannot officially end unless it has broken down irretrievably evidenced by 12 months separation, see Divorce. A registered relationship, by contrast, can end by application by either partner without proof of actual separation, after 90 days cooling off, or sooner by way of the marriage of either partner.

For further comparison, see 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
Ceremony N/A Optional Yes
Ended by Separation

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

Centrelink Yes Yes Yes
Income tax Yes Yes Yes
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.


Should we just get married?  :  Last Revised: Mon Feb 12th 2018
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.