De Facto Relationships

In March 2009, legislation was passed which recognised that Property Matters between de facto couples was able to be dealt with under the Family Law Act in much the same way as Property Matters between married couples. This is so regardless of whether you are in a heterosexual relationship, or a same sex relationship. 

The major difference in the legislation is that parties in a De facto Relationship are now able to seek an interest in their partner's superannuation and are also eligible to make application for spousal maintenance in situations where a party is unable to financially support themselves and the other party has the means to provide financial assistance.  Previously, these options were not available to de facto couples. 

Establishing a De Facto Relationship

The requirements to establish a De facto Relationship are quite complex and you should check with your legal advisor to ensure that your relationship falls under the definition in the Act.  In short, you must have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. When determining the question of “what is a couple”, the Act contemplates a number of things including but certainly not limited to the length of your relationship, whether a sexual relationship exists, if there was financial dependence or interdependence and whether there is a child of the relationship. 

Importantly, the Act enforces a two (2) year time limitation for de facto couples to resolve their Property Matters. If you do not resolve your matter within this time, you will be required to initiate Court proceedings which will be at a further cost to you.

Like married couples, de facto property settlements can be documented by way of Consent Order or Binding Financial Agreement. Similarly, parenting matters are conducted in the same way irrespective of whether the parties are married or in a De facto Relationship. 

More About De Facto Relationships:

For more information regarding de facto matters, see our Frequently Asked Questions. Alternatively, make an appointment with our Family Solicitor to obtain comprehensive advice regarding your De facto matter.

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Family Law News

See attached news articles by OMB for more information and recent developments in this area of law: