De Facto Separation
Cairns De Facto Separation Lawyers
Your local separation lawyers
It is becoming more common for couples to remain in long-term relationships without marrying. However, those in this situation still enter into what is considered by many, to be traditional marital transactions such as purchasing property or having children together. With de facto relationships on the rise in Australia, there is increasing confusion over de facto laws and entitlements during a separation.
Unlike other countries, if you are in a de facto relationship in Australia you generally have the same rights as a married couple once you separate. If you are separating, our Cairns family lawyers can help you understand what these rights are so you can make informed decisions.
What is a de facto relationship?
Under the Family Law Act, a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:
- the couple is not legally married to each other; and
- the couple is not related by family; and
- having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple who are living together on a “genuine domestic basis”
The Family Law Court may consider other factors when determining if a couple is in a de facto relationship, such as:
- the length of time the couple has been together (including any periods of separation);
- whether or not there was existence of a sexual relationship;
- whether or not the couple was residing together;
- the financial dependency of the parties; and
- how the relationship was perceived by the family and friends of the couple.
If you are unsure whether this applies to you, speak to a de facto lawyer at Cairns Divorce Lawyers today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I have separated from my de facto partner?
If you have recently ended, or are thinking of ending a de facto relationship, you should speak to a family lawyer as soon as possible. As with a property settlement after marriage, there are various factors that will determine the outcome.
Getting the right advice from a family law expert can help you understand what your entitlements and obligations are. There could also be timeframes that impact decisions. Once you have a full picture of where you stand, you’ll be able to move forward with confidence.
What if my ex-partner denies a de facto relationship exists?
If a party denies the couple was in fact in a de facto relationship, the Court will look at a range of circumstances of the relationship. These include the duration of the relationship, any children shared by the couple, ownership of property, and living and financial arrangements.
What are the rights of de facto partners?
In de facto relationships, the rights of de facto partners have traditionally been more limited than married couples, up until 2009.
If you are a de facto who separated after 1 March 2009, you can apply for property settlement or spousal maintenance under the Family Law Act. However, you must file for an application in the court within two years of the date of separation.
Our lawyers will be able to advise whether you are entitled to savings, real estate, investments, business assets, personal property such as cars and superannuation.
When can a property settlement order be made for a de facto relationship?
A de facto property settlement order can be made if:
- the de facto relationship has been registered
- you have lived together for at least 2 years
- you have had a child together
- you have made substantial contributions and there would be an injustice if no property settlement was made.
If you are unsure whether you are in a de facto relationship, speak to a family lawyer at Cairns Divorce Lawyers today.
What happens to pets during a separation?
Whilst animals are not regarded as assets (unless they are highly valued racehorses or similar), there can be times when one person in the relationship has contributed more financially to the welfare of the animal. In circumstances such as these, a settlement could be adjusted.
The care for animals such as cats and dogs who were jointly part of the de facto arrangement prior to the breakup are usually settled outside of court. There are exceptions such as when domestic violence has been a factor in the separation.
Arrangements can be formalised via a consent order but, the relationship of the animal, lifestyle, who purchased the pet, who registered it and who the main caregiver is, should also be discussed.
If you have concerns about pet ownership after separation, our team of legal experts can assist
Does a de facto relationship affect child support?
Under Australian Family Law, all parents have the same responsibilities to contribute to the financial support of children. Whether you are married, in a de facto relationship, or were never in a relationship, both parents have shared responsibility for any children.