Since 1 March 2009, de facto couples’ rights upon separation have been governed by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). However, there are qualifying conditions that can affect your claim under the Family Law Act.
That is, de facto couples are required to first establish that a de-facto relationship existed before they are able to make a claim under the Family Law Act. Generally, this means proving that you have cohabitated with and were financially dependent on your partner for at least two years or that there is a child of the relationship.
If your relationship broke down prior to 1 March 2009, the state and territory laws will apply. In New South Wales, this is the Property (Relationships) Act 1984.
At Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators, our team of family law specialists guide you through the complicated legislation and advise you as to your rights and entitlements arising from your relationship.
What is a De Facto Relationship?
Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 defines a de facto relationship as a relationship between two people of the same or opposite sex who:
- Are living together on a genuine domestic basis;
- Are not legally married to each other; and
- Are not related by family
How is a De Facto Relationship Determined?
Generally, two people are legally considered to be in a genuine de facto relationship if they have:
- Lived together for at least two years; or
- Have lived together for less than two years, but:
- Have had at least one child together;
- Have registered the relationship under the prescribed law of a State or Territory
- There have been substantial contributions made to the relationship by the party seeking an order or declaration; and, a failure to make the order or declaration would constitute serious injustice to the applicant
When determining the existence of a genuine de facto relationship, particularly where the nature of the relationship is in dispute by the parties involved, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia may additionally consider:
- The existence of a sexual relationship between the parties
- The nature and extent of the shared residence
- The degree of financial dependence or interdependence shared between the parties
- The reputation and public aspects of the relationship (e.g. whether others believed you were a couple)
- Ownership, use and acquisition of the parties’ property
- The degree of mutual commitment toward a shared life
- The support and care of the child/children
If you are/have been in a genuine de facto relationship and seek an order or declaration regarding property settlement, parenting matters or maintenance matters, you may then apply to have your de facto dispute determined by the Court.
Property Settlement for De Facto Relationships
Parties to an eligible de facto relationship which has broken down after 1 March 2009 can apply to the court to settle a de facto financial dispute or property matter in the same way as married couples.
However, you must file for financial orders within two years of the breakdown of the relationship. Special Court permission will need to be sought if you apply after this time.
Parenting Matters and De Facto Relationships
Parties to a de facto relationship recognised by law can apply for parenting orders (in relation to parenting arrangements and child custody) in the same way as married couples.
There are no time limits as to when an application must be brought to the Court regarding parenting matters.
De Facto Maintenance and De Facto Relationships
A party to a broken down de facto relationship can apply to the Court to have their former partner pay de facto maintenance (financial support) in much the same way as married couples.
However, you must file for de facto maintenance within two years of the breakdown of the relationship. Special Court permission will need to be sought if you apply after this time.
Here When You Need Us
If your de facto relationship has broken down and you want to know your entitlements regarding property settlement, parenting matters or de facto maintenance, the team at Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators is here to help you navigate the process.
With proven experience in negotiating financial and parenting matters, Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators is dedicated to achieving you the best outcome that serves your unique interests.