In today's society, it's common for many couples to live
together without tying the knot so how do you define these
relationships in a legal sense?
You are considered to be in a de facto relationship with someone
if three criteria set out by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) are
the persons are not legally married to each other; and
the persons are not related by family; and
having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship,
they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine
Establishing the first two criteria is straightforward but the
third criteria has a layer of complexity - fortunately, the Family
Law Act provides a detailed, non-exhaustive list of circumstances
to simplify the process. These include, but are not limited to:
the duration of the relationship;
the nature and extent of their common residence;
whether a sexual relationship exists;
the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any
arrangements for financial support, between them;
the ownership, use and acquisition of their property;
the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
whether the relationship is or was registered under a
prescribed law of a State or Territory as a prescribed kind of
the care and support of children; and
the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
The finding of any of the above is not strictly conclusive of a
de facto relationship as your entire relationship is considered,
including any other matters the court deems appropriate in
In addition, you need to demonstrate you have had a relationship
for at least two years –except where a child or children of
the relationship are involved.
The Family Law Court and the Family Circuit Court handle your
financial and spousal matters as well issues involving children in
the same way as for married couples. De facto partners are also
entitled to the same rights in regards to spousal maintenance,
property settlements, intestacy and superannuation and compensation
being claimed after the death of a partner.
If you're in a de facto relationship an application for
maintenance or property adjustment must be made within two years of
separation. This may be extended if the court is satisfied
hardship would be caused to either of the parties or a child if
leave is not granted
in respect to an order for maintenance, the parties
circumstances were such, at the time, that they would have been
unable to support themselves without some pension, allowance or
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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