What is a De Facto Couple?

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Couples in a de facto relationship can access the Family Law Courts for assistance in resolving their financial matters following separation in the same way that married couples can. But what is a de facto relationship?

How do I know if I am in a de facto relationship?

Under the law, you may be considered to be in a de facto relationship if you are part of a couple who are not married or related and you are living together on a “genuine domestic basis”. A de facto couple can include a same sex couple. You can be in a de facto relationship with someone while being married to someone else.

What factors are considered?

If the parties can’t agree as to whether they were in a de facto relationship, the Court can decide the issue. In determining whether or not a de facto relationship exists, the Court will look at a number of factors, such as the duration of the relationship, where the couple has lived, whether a sexual relationship existed, the degree of financial dependence or independence, the ownership of assets, arrangements for children, the reputation and public aspects of the relationship and if the parties were mutually committed to sharing a life together.

What else do I need to know?

There are important time frames for commencing proceedings for property settlement if parties do not otherwise reach an agreement.

Different laws apply to de facto couples who separated before 1 March 2009 and couples who separate after 1 March 2009.

How can I protect my assets?

If you are considering moving in with your partner or you are already in a de facto relationship, you and your partner could enter into a “Financial Agreement, which determines how you will distribute your assets or maintain one another if your relationship breaks down.
We can advise you about your options.