Know where you, your partner and kids stand under the law. A simple 12-point plan to asserting your relationship and parenting rights.
1. Register your family for the Medicare Safety Net. See: Medicare and Aged Care.
2. Nominate your partner as your superannuation beneficiary. If you are in a private superannuation fund, check whether you nomination will be binding or persuasive. See: Superannuation and Tax.
3. Know your next of kin. Same-sex partners have equal rights to visit a partner in hospital and make decisions on behalf of an incapicitated partner.
4. Make a will. Even without a will, same-sex de facto partners have equal rights in inheritance laws but wills make it easier to distribute your property after you die.
5. Check your employment agreement and policies. Make sure your leave entitlements and workplace benefits include your partner and your kids.
6. Check your health insurance policy. Make sure your same-sex partner and kids are included in your private health cover.
7. Centrelink payments. If you are living in a same-sex de facto relationship and currently receiving a Centrelink payment, you need to declare your relationship to Centrelink from 1 July 2009. See: Social Security.
8. Properly fill out your tax return. Declare your relationship on your tax return to ensure you eligibility for family rebates is properly assessed. See: Tax and Superannuation.
9. Apply to have your child's birth certificate amended. Lesbian de facto couples who have children together through assisted conception procedures are now recognised as legal parents. See: New Lesbian Parenting Laws in NSW. In addition same-sex couples that conceive through surrogacy may have a birth certificate amended to recognise the intending parent/s. Most same-sex families are now recognised in federal and state laws. See: Parenting Rights.
10. Know that same-sex discrimination may be unlawful. Same-sex couples are protected from discrimination in employment, the provision of goods and services and accomodation, however some exemptions, often in religious contexts, apply.
11. Keep records. Keep some records of your relationship, such as joint bills, leases or even holiday photos, in case you are asked to prove your relationship.
12. Make your relationship count. Declare your relationship on the Census and make sure same-sex couples are counted.
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