Advocating for Defence families

You’ve lost that loving feeling

Everything you need to know about managing a relationship breakdown when you are in a relationship with an ADF member.

Relationship breakdowns are a difficult but sometimes necessary part of life. Sometimes living with Defence life, with its challenges such as frequent absences from home and uncertainty, can add additional strain to healthy relationships and they can begin to become unhealthy relationships.

If you are at the point where you need to separate from your ADF partner and you are a recognised dependant, this blog post will explain how Defence policy works and what the best options are for you and your family.

Responsibilities of the serving member

If you are recognised as a dependant, the serving member must advise Defence that the relationships has ended. The member will then receive a recategorisation notice. Find the policy here and what the member has to do.

If your partner is unwilling to do this, you can call the Defence Member and Family Support, or DMFS via the Defence Family Helpline, your local Defence Families of Australia (DFA) Delegate or a Chaplain to assist in this process.

Living in a DHA Service Residence

If you are living in a DHA Service Residence the member must notify Defence Housing Australia once they have received the recategorisation notice. If the relationship involves children, the member can ask to remain in the house if he/she will be having access to the children in the future. If this timeframe is not sufficient to find new accommodation, the member can ask for an extension to this timeframe which will need to be approved.

The Defence spouse/partner may be eligible for costs to be paid by Defence to help in relocating.

The Defence spouse/partner may be eligible for certain removal and travel costs. This is different if you are posted overseas. Pet relocation, travel costs and accommodation costs may be included.

The Defence spouse/partner is able to deal with Toll Transitions directly in relation to this.

Phone 1800 819 167 to find out more about these conditions.

Outside of Defence you or your partner will need to also notify Centrelink, Medicare, the ATO and the Child Support Agency if there are children involved.

Family relationship and law issues can be quite complex. If you have a family law issue, you can contact the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321. They can provide free simple advice relating to family law but also refer you to other services. The Family Relationships website has information on issues relating to separation, mediation and dispute resolution and support for children.We hope this has explained some of the things that involved, as far as being a Defence partner is concerned, when an ADF relationship ends.

Important Numbers for Support

Defence Family Helpline 1800 624 608

Call the Defence Family Helpline at any time (24/7). This helpline is staffed by qualified human service professionals who can provide emotional support as well as explore options of support with you and or your partner.

You can also email and receive a response within 24 hours. 

Open Arms: Veterans and Veterans Family Counselling Service 1800 011 046

Provides free counselling for veterans and their families.

Defence Service Centre 1800 333 362

Chaplains are available over the holiday period.

To contact a Chaplain please call the Defence Service Centre on 1800 333 362 and ask for the Duty Chaplain in your area.

Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

Family Relationship Advice Line 1800 050 321

Offers counselling, family dispute resolution, mediation, and a range of family and community support and education programs.

If you think you or someone you know is in danger, please contact 000 now.

For confidential information, counselling and support call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) 24/7 which is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Read more about Family and Domestic Violence here.

This post was last updated 22 March 2022.

Blog at