De facto relationships

Commonly asked questions about de facto relationships:

Two people are in a de facto relationship if they live together as a couple on a domestic basis but are not legally married or related by family. This includes opposite-sex and same-sex couples. The Court will consider the following specific factors when determining whether a relationship is “de facto”:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • The parties’ living arrangements
  • The existence of an exclusive relationship
  • The level of financial dependence or interdependence between the two parties
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of property
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
  • Whether the relationship was registered in a state or territory
  • The care and support of any children of the relationship
  • The public aspects and reputation of the relationship

The time limit for a person in a de facto relationship to apply to the court for a property settlement or spouse maintenance order is two years from the date of final separation.

If you live with someone and provide them with free care or domestic support, but are not married to them or in a de facto relationship with them, your relationship may be defined as a “close personal relationship”. This can include where the two parties are related, such as an adult child providing care to an elderly parent.

The Family Law Act and the Succession Act recognise certain relationships including defacto and domestic relationships in the application of the law. The nature of your relationship will affect your legal rights should the relationship break down or one member of the relationship pass away.

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