What are “the Four Pillars” of a genuine and continuing relationship?

If you’re in a relationship with an Australian and you are considering your future as a couple, one of the things you will be thinking about is where you might want to live together. If Australia is part of this dream, then this series of blog posts is for you.

What are “the Four Pillars” of a genuine and continuing relationship?

When making an application for a Partner Visa, whether you are married or in a de facto relationship, you must provide evidence that your relationship is “genuine and continuing”, and that you are committed to a “shared life to the exclusion of all others”.

A good partner visa application will be able to demonstrate this clearly, however every relationship is different so how this looks for you won’t be the same as for another couple.

The Department of Home Affairs (“DoHA”) assesses your application to determine if you have proven these criteria based on certain aspects of your relationship. These are commonly known as “the Four Pillars”.

Pillar 1 – Nature of your commitment to each other

The foundation of any relationship is the nature of your commitment to each other. This Pillar is focused on explaining to the DoHA that you are in a committed relationship for the long-term. The DoHA want to know:

  • how long you have been in a committed relationship
  • how long you have lived together
  • how much you know about each other’s personal circumstances
  • how much companionship and emotional support you get from each other
  • how you see your future as a couple

Many of these can be hard to demonstrate through documented evidence so you will both need to write a statement about your relationship explaining these aspects to include with your Partner Visa application. It is important that these statements are written individually and in each of your own words.

Pillar 2 – Nature of your household

This is your opportunity to show the DoHA what your relationship looks like on a day-to-day basis – where you live, how you live and who you live with. To support this Pillar you can provide:

  • rental tenancy agreements
  • household bills in both names
  • correspondence addressed to you both
  • joint responsibility for children
  • joint responsibility for pets

You can also use your relationship statement to provide more detail to the DoHA about your household such as how housework is distributed.

Pillar 3 – Social aspects of your relationship

This Pillar is all about how other people interact with you as a couple. Your friends and family play an important role in this Pillar. The DoHA want to see:

  • how your friends and family view you as a couple
  • social activities and celebrations you have attended as a couple
  • joint activities you do as a couple
  • travel you have done or plan to do as a couple

Photos, invitations, and statements from friends and family are all important to support this Pillar. For some very social couples this will be easy, however others who are camera shy, or don’t like to leave the comfort of their own home often may feel they have less to contribute. If you feel like that is you, the experts at KU Legal can offer guidance specific to your circumstances.

Pillar 4 – Financial aspects of your relationship

The DoHA also want to see how you manage your finances as a couple. The focus of this Pillar is on:

  • any joint ownership of real estate or other major assets
  • any joint liabilities
  • the extent of any pooling of financial resources
  • the basis of any sharing of day-to-day household expenses

Financial aspects of your relationship can be one of the easier aspects to provide documentary evidence. Keeping records for things such as major purchases, joint bank accounts, shared household or travel expenses, will help to support this Pillar.

What if I don’t live with my Partner?

If you live separately from your partner or if your relationship is long distance with your partner still living overseas, it may be more difficult to demonstrate the Four Pillars. KU Legal has been successful in working with couples who lived separately at the time of the visa application.  We can provide guidance and support for your circumstances during our Eligibility Review process.

If you want to discuss your eligibility for a Partner Visa, speak with the immigration experts at KU Legal:

+61 (0) 429 133 911

jb@kulegal.com.au

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