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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 8 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

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