De facto couples have many of the same rights and obligations as married couples when they separate. The RMB Family Lawyer division explains how a de facto relationship is defined under the Family Law Act:
To be able to seek orders for a property adjustment when they separate, parties to a de facto relationship must first show that they were in fact in a de facto relationship so as to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court under the Family Law Act.
Demonstrating the existence of a de facto relationship can prove more complex than demonstrating a marriage.
To do so, the party claiming the existence of the relationship must be able to demonstrate that:
- The persons are not legally married to each other;
- The persons are not related by family; and
- Having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.
To determine the existence of the relationship, and in particular, to satisfy itself as to the third point, a Court will have regard to the following circumstances of the parties’ relationship:
- The duration of the relationship;
- The nature and extent of the parties’ common residence;
- Whether a sexual relationship exists;
- The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between the parties;
- The ownership, use and acquisition of the parties’ 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.
The above is a non-exhaustive list of what the Court may have regard to, and the existence or absence of any of the above factors is not conclusive to the Court finding that a de facto relationship does or does not exist. Importantly, parties do not have to be in a relationship for a requisite period of time in order to establish the existence of a de facto relationship although the duration may assist in proving the de facto relationship.
RMB Lawyers’ Family Law Division can guide you if you have separated from your partner and are unsure of your rights and entitlements, your first step should be to contact our office to arrange a free consultation. You can contact us by by phone or our 'Ask a Question' tool on our website.