New Legislation Puts De Facto Couples on Equal Footing

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Amendments have recently been made to the Family Law Act. The new reforms allow de facto couples to access federal family law Courts in relation to property and maintenance matters upon the breakdown of a de facto relationship. Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson briefly reviews the new law.

What is the aim of the new law?

The main objective of the new law is to place de facto couples on an equal footing with married couples when dealing with their financial arrangements on separation.  The new law extends the legal financial regime already available for married couples upon the breakdown of their relationship to opposite-sex and same-sex de facto couples.

Does the new law apply to me?

The new law will commence on 1 March 2009 and will apply to de facto couples which separate after that date. If parties to a de facto relationship separate prior to 1 March 2009, they can choose (“opt-in”) to have their financial matter determined under the new regime. Presently, these matters are covered by State/Territory de facto laws.

What rights do I have under the new Act?

The new law allows the federal family law Courts to make property and maintenance orders in relation to de facto parties following the breakdown of their relationship.

For the first time, orders can be made to split superannuation of de facto couples (previously only afforded to married couples under the Family Law Act). The new laws also covers matters such as financial agreements, parentage presumptions separation declarations, as well as a new definition of a de facto relationship.

What if I’m not separated from my de facto partner?

The new law immediately affects people who are already in a de facto relationship. Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson can advise you of your rights and entitlements under the new law and also existing state de facto law.