What Is a De Facto Relationship?

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A de facto relationship is defined in Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).  A person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:

  1. The parties are not legally married to each other; and
  2. The parties are not related by family; and
  3. Having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

The circumstances may include any of all of the following:

  1. The duration of the relationship;
  2. The nature and extent of the common residence;
  3. Whether a sexual relationship existed;
  4. The degree of financial dependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them;
  5. The ownership, use and acquisition of their property;
  6. The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  7. Whether the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory as a prescribed kind of relationship;
  8. The care and support of children;
  9. The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

No particular finding in relation to any of the above circumstances is regarded as necessary in deciding whether a de facto relationship existed. 

A de facto relationship can exist even if one of the parties is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship. 

How do de facto relationships differ to married couples in parenting and financial matters?

The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court consider issues relating to the children of de facto relationships in the same way as children of married couples. 

Eligible de facto relationships can apply to the Courts to have financial matters determined in the same way as married couples.  For a de facto relationship you must meet one of the four gateway criteria:

  1. The parties were in a de facto relationship for at least 2 years;
  2. There is a child on the de facto relationship;
  3. The relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory; or
  4. Significant contributions were made by one party and the failure to issue an Order would result in a serious injustice.

De facto financial proceedings must be commenced within two years of the date of separation, whereas married couples must commence proceedings within 12 months of the date of their Divorce Order.

If you are in a de facto relationship and need advice regarding separation, speak to a family lawyer at Cairns Divorce Lawyers today.

At Cairns Divorce Lawyers you will always speak to a Lawyer