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A Partner visa allows the spouse or partner of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen to live and work in Australia.

There are various visa subclasses. The visas you choose will depend on the length of your relationship and whether you are in or outside of Australia. You can read more about the visa options in our earlier blog post here.

Although Partner visas provide an excellent pathway to Australian residence, they can also add additional pressure on a relationship due to the dependence on sponsorship. Should a relationship break down, there are ramifications for the Partner visa holder.

Partner visas and relationship breakdowns

The impact a break down in a relationship will have on your Australia residency status will depend on which stage of the Partner visa process you are in. Broadly speaking, once you have obtained permanent residence, a relationship break down will not impact your status in Australia (unless it is discovered that you were not in a genuine relationship or that you have provided false or misleading information).

However, should your relationship break down prior to your permanent visa grant, in most cases you will have your visa cancelled and be expected to depart Australia (or obtain a further visa).

Relationship breakdown prior to temporary visa grant

Should your relationship break down before your temporary visa is granted, your temporary visa cannot be granted unless either or both of these circumstances apply:

  • your relationship with your Australian partner has ended (since the temporary visa application was made) solely because the Australian partner has died; or
  • your relationship with your Australian partner has ended since the temporary visa application was made and family violence has occurred or access rights to children are involved.

These exceptions to grant a visa do not apply to offshore Partner visas.

Relationship breakdown prior to permanent visa grant

Should your relationship break down following your temporary visa grant, but prior to your permanent visa, you will not be granted your permanent visa unless either or both of these circumstances apply:

  • the Australian partner dies and you would have continued to be the spouse or de facto partner of the Australian partner if they had not died and you have developed close business, cultural or personal ties in Australia;
  • you and / or a dependent child have suffered family violence committed by the sponsor; or
  • you have custody or access rights over a child for whom the Australian partner has custody/access rights and/or maintenance obligations;

Ordinarily, your ex-partner or a third person would notify the Department of Home Affairs (Department) that your relationship has broken down, and you will receive correspondence from a Delegate asking you to comment on the information it has received that your relationship has broken down.

The correspondence will ordinarily allow you 28 days to respond to the allegations that your relationship has ended. If you are unable to convince the Department that your relationship continues to be genuine, or that you meet one of the circumstances above, the Department would ordinarily take steps to cancel your visa.

Further information

Hannan Tew recognises the difficulties involved in migrating to Australia and the anxiety involved in a relationship breakdown particularly when it impacts your residency status. Feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone (03) 9016 0484 or (02) 8005 1484 for a confidential chat and further information in relation to your residency status.

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Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Julie says:

    My relationship has broken down 1 month before being able to apply for permanent residency. I’m assuming without children or family violence, there isn’t anything I can do to stay withing Australia?

    What happens to the health care benefits of Medicare? Is that something that needs to be paid back?

    We are registered as de facto and have been living together for 3 years. What happens to property and finances?

    Thank you for your help.

  • Tom says:

    I have got my permanent residency in 2018 Nov and my partner broke up with me in 2018 December and the main applicant was my partner. we got divorced in 2020. Do I able to bring my new partner from another country. Do I need to change anything in my PR status.

    • admin says:

      Hi Tom,
      If you’ve got PR you don’t need to update the Department with your relationship change.
      However, since you were sponsored (and became a ‘relevant person’), you do have a 5 year sponsorship ban unless you can convince the Minister that there are compelling circumstances for allowing you to sponsor before then.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] to speak to one of our lawyers about this in more detail.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Jo says:

    Hi I got married in 2019 and my husband has just got his PR two months ago and he broke up with me and moved out of house which we just built . Can his residency get cancelled or he can remarry and bring his own partner ? Do we need to have official divorce or after one year of separation there is no need ?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jo,
      Generally speaking, if he’s entered into a new genuine relationship after he was granted PR then he would not have issues with his immigration status (though he may have issues if he provided false or misleading information in the original application). However, he would have a sponsorship bar for a period of 5 years. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss this further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Kekee says:

    Hi, my partner and i have a 6 month old. We applied for 820/821 on August this. He has,been very verbally and psychologically abusive everytime i ask for help with our son . If i walk away from the relationship, will they force me to leave my child who is also a citizen after being asked to exit the country? What are my options/chances

    • admin says:

      Hi Kekee,
      We’re sorry to hear about your situation.
      There may be grounds to keep your visa based on the family violence provisions, but as this will require a discussion about sensitive information please contact us at [email protected] to speak to one of our lawyers.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Cecilia Orchard says:

    Hi, I have sponsored my husband, married here in Perth WA last July 2017. He got his permanent residence almost two years ago. Now, he wants to leave me…everytime we have a fight or confrontation which he is always verbally aggressive and so defensive, physically restrained me twice; he always treated me to leave me since he got his permanent residence and when he got a job. My problem are:
    * he don’t or refused to help me paying some bills and even household work because he keep saying it’s my house. I have my house still in mortgage and am still paying by myself.
    * when he got the job, he offered to pay the electricity bill but am paying my solar panels, he pays wifi, medibank only.
    * he buys food that he likes and I buy quality foods for us
    * Am paying most of the bills ie, my mortgage, water bills, gas bills, my council bills plus all the maintenance of the house.
    * I paid 85% ( I did loan from Latitude Financial Services) of our wedding that I thought he loves me. Our money that we got/received during our wedding most of it 90% went to pay his visa for a permanent residence.
    After our wedding in July2017, he did go back to overseas on the first week of August ( where he came from) because of his temporary visitor visa. His brother has a migrant office, owns his business, he was the one to help to process his visa onshore visa application for him to come back here in Australia. So, my husband arrived or back here again on the first week of November 2017. Since he came back, he look after his mum and his stepfather most of the time. His parents lives in North of the river that time. So, he spent most of the time with his immediate family.

    Now, I am so devastated that he is leaving me. My question is…what should I do, I thought I have been used for him to stay here permanently.

    Thank you so much for your reply and help.

    • admin says:

      Hi Cecilia,
      We’re sorry to hear about your situation.
      Generally speaking, if the relationship breaks down after permanent residence is obtained, there is no recourse for you terminate his visa. The only recourse would be if you could prove that he was not in a genuine relationship with you at the time the application was made.
      We’d generally need to discuss sensitive issues if this is the case, so feel free to email us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Katya Francia says:

    Hi, my partner and I tried to apply this month to the partner visa but now we are in a complicated situation. I am with student visa until march. How can I do? Can I apply for another visa without him instead student visa? I am desperate, I didn’t have another plan.

    Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hi Katya,
      If your Student visa is still valid until March, you can still likely apply for another visa. The most appropriate visa would obviously depend on your circumstances. Feel free to book in a consultation with one of our lawyers if you’d like to discuss appropriate options here:
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew Lawyers

  • John Kane says:


    I applied for sponsor visa for my partner ( de facto relationship) and i withdrew application after 4 months. However visa was not granted and i received an email that my sponsorship has been withdrawn and I am no longer able to know if Visa will be granted or not. Now after 2 years i want apply for my wife who is overseas, Can i apply for her visa ?

    Lets say the visa was granted to my first partner after I withdrew my application via non judicial evidence as my ex partner mentioned she is seeing “therapist” and she still lives in Australia so i assume the visa was granted.

    Does this count towards my sponsorship? or does the decision counts separately from my sponsorship count?
    I have not recieved any notification regarding my sponsourship whether my sponsorship has counted. Do i need to contact Home Affair to check my eligibility.

    I apologise for this long question. I really need assistance at the moment

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