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De Facto Relationships in Australian Law

De facto relationships are recognised in Australian family law.  The courts examines various issues when deciding if a couple can be identified as in a de facto relationship.  De facto couples have legal rights and face the same family law issues such as property settlement, parenting orders and spousal maintenance if they separate.  They can also create a binding financial agreement, commonly known as a ‘prenup’ and issues such as parentage.

How do Courts decide if a Couple is in a De-Facto Relationship?

In basic terms, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) states that a de facto relationship exists where a couple are not legally married, are not related by family and live together on a genuine domestic basis.  Various factors will contribute to the courts determination of this including

  • The relationship’s duration.
  • The nature and extent of their common residence.
  • Whether a sexual relationship exists.
  • The financial relationship between the parties.
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of their property.
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life.
  • Whether the relationship is or was registered.
  • The care and support of children.
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

None of these factors being present in your relationship necessarily means that a de facto relationship exists.  Rather, the consideration of these factors assists in the determination of whether two people in fact live together on a genuine domestic basis.  Sometimes the determination of whether a de facto relationship exists can be very complex.

Evidence of a relationship may include the financial records, records of conversations and details about the living arrangements of the parties.  A family lawyer can assist a client in organising and obtaining evidence relevant to proving or disproving the existence of a de facto relationship.

How to formally register your de facto relationship

If you want to formalise your relationship you may want to register it.  Registration of de facto relationships is available in NSW under the Relationships Register Act 2010 (NSW) Pt 2.  The family lawyers at BSM Lawyers are happy to advise and assist you

BSM Lawyers

As discussed, parties to a de facto relationship can access various family law services including those relating to property settlement, parenting orders, spousal maintenance, binding financial agreements and parentage.  The experienced family lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight can assist by explaining the law as it relates to you and helping you access your legal entitlements.  We can also help resolve disputes between de-facto partners.  95% of our family matters are settled with negotiation, saving you the expense and stress of going to court.  However, if required we are able to represent you effectively in court.  In addition, we have a panel of family law barristers who we can call upon to represent you in court if required.

There are some rules which uniquely apply to de facto couples in family law.  For example there are time limits which apply to commencing legal proceedings for property settlements and this varies depending on whether the settlement relates to a married or de facto couple.  The family lawyers at BSM are happy to provide you with legal advice in regard to all aspects of a de-facto relationship.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

We are conveniently located with offices in Sutherland, Parramatta, Wollongong and Sydney CBD.

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