After separation sometimes it can be difficult to know if you were in a de facto relationship with your former partner and to know what your entitlements are after separation, when you're not married.

What is a de facto relationship?

The Family Law Act defines a de facto relationship as a couple who are:

  • Not legally married;
  • Not related by family; and
  • Living together in a relationship as a couple.1

A de facto relationship under the Family Law Act can be between 2 people of the different genders, or 2 people of the same gender.

A de facto relationship can also exist even if one person is still legally married.

When considering whether two people are in a de facto relationship the court may consider things like:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The circumstances of their common residence (e.g. how long they have lived together)
  • Whether a sexual relationship exists
  • Financial dependence on each other
  • How the people own their property (e.g. together or separately)
  • Care and support of children
  • Reputation and whether the relationship is publically known.

If you have separated from your partner and are unsure as to whether your relationship falls under the definition of a 'de facto relationship' we recommend you seek legal advice to ensure you are aware of your entitlements after separation.


1 Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 4AA.

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.