Former Sex Worker Loses De-facto Claim
Since 2009 the Family Law Act has given the Family or Federal Circuit Court the power to adjust the property interests of people who were in a de facto relationship when that relationship breaks down.
But first an applicant to the Court must establish that they were living in a de facto relationship.
Generally the Court recognises a de facto relationship as one where parties who are not legally married to each other or related by family are living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis for a period of two years. Indices include the duration of the relationship, common residence, financial dependence or inter dependence, ownership, use and acquisition of property, mutual commitment to a shared life, care and support of children, sexual relationships and the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
Each case must be considered on its own circumstances.
In a recent interesting case, an applicant who had been a sex worker claimed a de facto relationship existed with a former client and that an adjustment of property interests was required.
The applicant met the respondent when he was one of her clients. In the course of their encounters they became friends and after some time the respondent was no longer required to pay for sex.
They went on holidays together and the applicant eventually gave up her job as a sex worker. Some years later the applicant started spending two to five nights a week with the respondent at his residence. However the parties did not share an economic life and at no stage had a joint bank account or jointly acquired property. The respondent met the majority of the expenses.
The Judge was not satisfied that there was a de facto relationship between the parties and dismissed the application. The lack of any financial relationship was a factor on which the Judge placed particular weight.
The Judge commented that even if he had found that there was a de facto relationship, he would not have made an order altering their property interests because the power to adjust property interests requires the Court to be satisfied that there are cogent reasons such as a party to the relationship making financial or non financial contributions.
In this case there was no financial interdependence, no children of the relationship and the Judge was not satisfied that the applicant had been adversely affected financially in any way by the relationship.
If you, your family or friends wish to enquire about a similar circumstance, please email us on our "Ask Us a Question" feature or call (02) 4228 8288 to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers.