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De Facto Relationships
The process of dividing the assets of a de facto couple following separation is the same as the process for married couples.
However, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for your relationship to be classified as a ‘de facto relationship’.
According to the Family Law Act 1975, a de facto relationship exists where persons who are not legally married are “in a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.”
Sometimes there is a dispute about whether or not a de facto relationship exists. If a de facto relationship does not exist, then the legal rights and entitlements to a family law property division will not arise. Not having rights and entitlements to a property division can be a big deal. It will, therefore, be of great importance to determine whether a de facto relationship exists or not in those cases where it is not immediately clear.
The court can have regard to any or all of the following circumstances to determine the existence of a de facto relationship:
- The duration of the relationship;
- The nature and extent of common residence;
- Whether a sexual relationship exists;
- The degree of financial interdependence;
- The ownership, use and acquisition of property;
- The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- Whether the relationship was registered;
- The care and support of children; and
- The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
These circumstances may be evidenced by joint bank accounts, rental agreements, photos together and joint invitations from friends to events such as weddings.
As previously explained, for a de facto relationship to exist the parties must have been living together on a genuine domestic basis. If you were not living together for at least 2 years during your relationship, it may be difficult to show that you were in a de facto relationship. However, all circumstances will be different. If you are not sure whether or not you were in a de facto relationship, we recommend seeking independent legal advice.
It is important to note that if you were in a de facto relationship, you only have until 2 years after separation to bring an application before the court for a family law property division.
We can provide you with advice about what these requirements entail, what your entitlements upon separation from your de facto partner are, and how you can divide your property if you were in a de facto relationship.