De facto Relationships

We can advise you on your legal rights as a de facto couple, and assist you with any issues arising from the breakdown of your de facto relationship

In the eyes of the law, a de facto relationship exists if a couple lives together on a domestic basis and the two parties are neither married to one another, nor related by family. A de facto relationship can exist even if one of the parties is still married to somebody else.

Since the 2009 amendments to the Family Law Act, de facto couples (including same sex couples) have had identical rights to married couples, meaning that the same rules now apply for resolving issues arising from a separation. The law is also applied in the same way for matters involving children.

Following a de facto relationship breakdown, the court can make an order about the division of property or maintenance as long as one of the following criteria is met:

  • The relationship existed for at least two years, although there is an exception if there would be hardship caused to one or both of the parties if the court declined to make an order

  • There is a child of the de facto relationship

  • One of the partners in the relationship made substantial financial or personal contributions to the relationship (eg as an income earner, the contribution of a lump sum, or as a homemaker or parent), to the extent that it would be unjust if they were not compensated in some way

  • The de facto relationship was registered in a state or territory

Stacks can advise you on your rights as a de facto couple, including those relating to the distribution of property, spouse maintenance, and children’s issues in the event that your de facto relationship breaks down. We will look at the details of your particular situation and help you reach a settlement with your former partner that offers you the best long-term outcome. In all matters we will try to facilitate agreement between both parties in order to avoid the need for a court hearing.

Need advice about a law relation to de facto relationships? call us today

Commonly asked questions about de facto relationships:

What is a de facto relationship?

Two people are in a de facto relationship if they live together as a couple on a domestic basis but are not legally married or related by family. This includes opposite-sex and same-sex couples. The Court will consider the following specific factors when determining whether a relationship is “de facto”:

  • The duration of the relationship

  • The parties’ living arrangements

  • The existence of an exclusive relationship

  • The level of financial dependence or interdependence between the two parties

  • The ownership, use and acquisition of property

  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life

  • Whether the relationship was registered in a state or territory

  • The care and support of any children of the relationship

  • The public aspects and reputation of the relationship

What is the time limit for applying for a property settlement or maintenance?

The time limit for a person in a de facto relationship to apply to the court for a property settlement or spouse maintenance order is two years from the date of final separation.

How does a de facto relationship differ from a "close personal relationship"?

If you live with someone and provide them with free care or domestic support, but are not married to them or in a de facto relationship with them, your relationship may be defined as a “close personal relationship”. This can include where the two parties are related, such as an adult child providing care to an elderly parent.

Why does my relationship need a definistion?

The Family Law Act and the Succession Act recognise certain relationships including de facto and domestic relationships in the application of the law. The nature of your relationship will affect your legal rights should the relationship break down or one member of the relationship pass away.