What are De Facto Relationships in Family Law?18 February 2022 in Family and Divorce Law
Family law issues such as property settlement and parenting orders don’t only apply to married couples and their families. In Australia, de facto couples face the same family law issues as married couples and can seek legal assistance in relation to these issues.
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 whether two people are in a de facto relationship 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. Ultimately, the determination of whether a de facto relationship exists can be very complex.
Evidence of a de facto 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.
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.
It is important to appreciate that 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.
How to formally register your de facto relationship
If you want to formalise your de facto 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.
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