De Facto Relationships

DE FACTO

A de facto couple has the same rights as a married couple.

Pursuant to family law, a de facto relationship exists between a couple that is not married or related and that has lived together on a genuine domestic basis. This couple may be of the same or opposite sex.

A de facto relationship can exist between two people even if one of the parties is married or in a de facto relationship with another.

IS MY RELATIONSHIP A DE FACTO RELATIONSHIP?

To establish whether a genuine domestic relationship exists, the court may consider any and/or all of the following circumstances:

  • The duration of the relationship;
  • The nature and extent that a common residence was shared;
  • Whether a sexual relationship existed;
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, including any financial support which was provided from one partner to the other;
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of property (including real property, personal items, whitegoods, electronics, and motor vehicles);
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • If the relationship is or was registered as a prescribed kind of relationship (in Queensland, pursuant to the Relationships Act 2011 (Qld));
  • The care and support of any children;
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship (in other words, what do you and your partner purport your relationship to be to the general public and to mutual friends).

AM I ENTITLED TO A PROPERTY SETTLEMENT?

If a de facto relationship exists, a de facto party can seek a property adjustment and/or spousal maintenance orders provided that:

1. Either:

  • The de facto relationship exists for at least 2 years;
  • There is a child of the de facto relationship and that child is a child from both of the de facto parties;
  • One or both of the parties to the de facto relationship made substantial contributions to the joint property pool such that it would be unjust not to make a property adjustment; or
  • The relationship is or was registered as a prescribed kind of relationship (for example, in Queensland, pursuant to the Relationships Act 2011 (Queensland));

2. The de facto relationship has ended (meaning that the desire to end the relationship has been communicated from one partner to the other); and

3. The time limit has not expired.

Once the above conditions are satisfied, the court will consider entitlements. For further information, see the four step process.

If you are in a de facto relationship and would like to protect your entitlement moving forward, you might wish to enter into a binding financial agreement (what might be more commonly known as a cohabitation agreement).

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