A de-facto relationship exists if you are in a relationship with another person but are not legally married to each other, you are not related by family and you have a genuine domestic couple relationship. The Family Law Act 1975 makes provisions for de-facto relationships.
Considerations in deciding if a de-facto relationship exists:
- Common residence;
- Duration of the relationship (generally 2 years, exception if a child is of the relationship);
- If it is sexual in nature;
- Financial dependence and support;
- Jointly owned property;
- Mutual commitment to a shared life;
- Public aspects of the relationship
If you are considered to be in a de-facto relationship you have responsibilities and rights that are similar to those of married couple.
Of particular importance is that you have similar rights and responsibilities during the following events:
Death of a partner
The following may apply to you:
- Interest in the deceased estate under the Succession Act;
- Financial assistance under the Succession Act;
- Receive workers compensation if death is during the course of employment;
- Claim social security.
The Family Law Act 1975 sets out the principles for determining financial disputes after the breakdown of a de-facto relationship.
These principles involve:
- Considering the assets and debts of the parties;
- Considering the financial contribution of each party;
- Looking at the non-financial contributions of each party;
- Considering all future needs and requirements of the parties.
Similarly to property settlements of married couples, a de-facto relationship property settlement will be based on individual circumstances of the relationship.
There is a time limit of 2 years to make a property application after the breakdown of a relationship.
Section 72 of the Family Law Act 1975 provides for maintenance for married and de-facto relationships. Spousal maintenance is only appropriate when one party is unable to work due to lost earning capacity, or when a party is unable to work because they are the primary carer of a child.
Generally, there are three considerations:
- Whether the person applying for the maintenance has a genuine financial need;
- Whether that person is exercising a reasonable attempt to support themselves;
- Whether the person that must provide the support has the capacity to do so.
The maintenance can be specific to a certain time period and can be varied by the court if circumstances change.
Registering a relationship
It is possible to register a de-facto relationship document, or certificate that can then be used as proof of the relationship.
Our team can assist you registering a de-facto relationship, and support you through the processes post separation.