De facto relationships are defined under section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975.

Under this legislation a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:

  • the persons are not legally married to each other; and
  • the persons are not related by family (see subsection (6)); and
  • having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

In working out if persons have a relationship as a couple (as referred to in (c) above) those circumstances may include any or all of the following:

  • 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 relationship;
  • the care and support of children;
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

It is also important to note that under section 4AA of the Family Law Act a court determining whether a de facto relationship exists is entitled to have regard to such matters, and to attach such weight to any matter, as may seem appropriate to the court in the circumstances of the case.

Under the Family Law Act 1975 de facto couples obtain certain rights and are entitled to apply to the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court to have disputes determined regarding both children and financial matters (property settlement). If you are in a de facto relationship and are considering applying to the Court for property settlement it is important that you obtain immediate legal advice as strict time limits apply. You must apply for de facto financial orders within two years of the breakdown of your relationship. After this time you need the Court’s permission to apply which is not always given. If you would like to discuss these matters further please contact us today for an appointment.

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